President receives interim report on free higher education

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has received the interim report of the Commission into the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa.

In a statement on Thursday, the Presidency said he would study the interim report and give direction on the way forward.

The President established the commission in January, with an expectation to complete its task within eight months.

However, after the amendment of its terms of reference, the commission has been given an extension to complete its work by 30 June 2017.

“The Chairperson of the commission, Judge Jonathan Heher, has submitted the interim report to the President, after only three of the proposed eight sets into which the commission had divided its work have been completed.

“According to the commission, the structure was determined with an appreciation that no properly informed recommendation could be submitted by the commission without a full understanding of the factors that control and influence higher education and training in South Africa,” said the Presidency.

The following are the three sets contained in the interim report:

- An overview by stakeholders of the terms of reference of the commission

- Post-school education and training in South Africa

- The funding of institutions of higher education and training and understanding their operational costs.

Ministerial Task Team makes progress

In a statement following its two-day meeting this week, Cabinet said progress has been made by the Ministerial Task Team appointment by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to develop and support a funding model for poor and “missing middle” students.

A blueprint entitled the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP), underwent an engagement process, which saw various inputs incorporated, and agreement obtained across all key stakeholders for the future governance structure of ISFAP.

The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme makes various recommendations which are currently under consideration for implementation, said Cabinet.

“The proposed model and recommendations contained in the report, will go a long way in not only addressing the funding problems faced by poor and “missing middle” students, but also in addressing amongst others, challenges which South Africa faces.”

The ISFAP blueprint provides poor and “missing middle” students financial assistance to cover the full cost of study.

While recommending a fully subsidised education to the poor in the form of bursaries and grants, it also proposes progressively reducing bursaries and grants to the “missing middle” students as household income increases and sketches scenarios of how this can be achieved by mobilising funds from both the public and private sectors. –