Deputy Minister meets students

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Buti Manamela says government still needs to forge ahead with its plans to make the public and institutions alike understand the concept of free education. 

Deputy Minister Manamela addressed a public meeting on Friday in Johannesburg, which was attended mostly by students. 

He said tertiary institutions must have structures in place to interpret government’s decision on free education. The meeting was organised by student leaders to discuss the importance of free education and why it was critical for government to be decisive on this policy. 

At the meeting, students were given an opportunity to raise their concerns, which mainly centred on financial exclusion. 

Free education 

President Jacob Zuma in December 2017 announced that government will subsidise free higher education for poor and working class students, starting in 2018 with students in their first year of study at public universities.

This will be done in a phased-in approach over a period of five years.

“This policy intervention will enable government to extend fully subsidised free higher education to youth from well over 90% of South African households.

“From 2018 onwards, eligible South African children of the unemployed, social grant recipients, South Africans earning below the minimum wage, domestic workers, farm workers, mine workers and entry level civil servants such as teachers, nurses, policemen, municipal workers, security guards, refuse collectors and informal traders, amongst others, will now access public universities and TVET colleges for free through grants provided by government,” said President Zuma in a statement on 16 December.

The President also announced that there will be no tuition fee increment for students from households earning up to R600 000 a year during the 2018 academic year.

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) packages already allocated to existing NSFAS students in their further years of study will be converted from loans to 100% grants, effective immediately.

The definition of poor and working class students will now refer to “currently enrolled Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college or university students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000” by the 2018 academic year.

“The Minister of Higher Education and Training shall revise this quantum periodically in consultation with the Minister of Finance,” said President Zuma.

The subsidised full cost of study will include tuition fees, prescribed study material, meals, accommodation and/or transport.

President Zuma made this announcement after he released the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the feasibility of making higher education and training fee-free in South Africa in November. –

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