President urges cooperation on student funding solutions

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has urged university administrations and students to cooperate and work with Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to find solutions to the challenge of student funding and access.

On Friday, the President said he is concerned about the violence that has broken out at some universities following the announcement by Minister Nzimande of government’s position on fee increases next year.

President Zuma reminded all that education is a societal matter.

“We must all work together to find solutions to the higher education access challenge. From parents, business community, labour, religious leaders, traditional leaders, political parties and communities in general, let us find solutions together.

“It is not a matter that must be resolved by government alone, or by the Department of Higher Education and Training alone,” said President Zuma.

The President said he has pledged his full support and that of Cabinet to Minister Nzimande and the university community as they deal with this matter.

He re-emphasised the seriousness with which the government takes the issue of higher education funding.

“The funding base for higher education students has been expanding considerably over the years, although it has not yet entirely offset the financial challenges for many students.

“Government cares and will continue to search for ways of making access to higher education easier for students,” said President Zuma.

The President has established the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into Higher Education and Training Funding which is still at work considering the issues of higher education funding in their entirety.

President Zuma urged student organisations to cooperate with the commission as it seeks solutions.

“We urge the students to explore peaceful avenues to engage on this issue constructively. The destruction of property is a criminal offence and will be treated as such by the law enforcement authorities.

“We have directed the police to ensure that all such cases reach the courts and that those responsible answer for their actions. This infrastructure must be available for use by generations to come, and students should respect university property as leaders of the future,” said the President. -