Recommendations urge government to make higher education more accessible

President Jacob Zuma has finally released the fees commission report. The report has recommendations on funding, registration fees, historical debt and student accommodation that have been at the forefront of protests in recent years. Photo: Citizen

The Fees Commission report has finally been released on 13 November after multiple calls from students, civil society and opposition parties demanding its release.

Read: What you can say about #FeesMustFall on social media

The premise of the report was to investigate whether the country could afford free and quality higher education. The commission was chaired by Honourable Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher and released to the public via The Presidency website and media platforms.

News of the release of the report had social media abuzz with #Feescommission trending.

A statement accompanying the report stated, “The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding led by the Minister in the Presidency Mr Jeff Radebe and the Presidential Fiscal Committee whose lead minister is the Minister of Finance, Mr Malusi Gigaba, are processing the report.”

Read: Jacob Zuma plans to make an announcement on free education

The Fees Commission report recommended the following:

  • All undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks
  • Application and registration fees should be scrapped completely
  • The government needs to increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1 per cent of the GDP, in line with comparable economies
  • Government needs to adopt an affordable plan to develop more student accommodation due to the fact that there is a severe shortage of student accommodation across the higher education and training sector
  • Government must investigate the viability of ‘online and blended learning’ as an alternative. This will help address the funding and capacity challenges facing the current higher education and training sector
  • All TVET students should receive fully subsidised free education in the form of grants that cover their full cost of study and that no student should be partially funded
  • Postgraduate students to have access to a cost-sharing model of government-guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks
  • Students with historical debt who have since graduated, be offered income-contingency loans as well
  • NSFAS should be retained for the provision of the funding of all TVET students and TVET student support if such retention is considered necessary.
Andile Dlodlo

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