The Minster of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande says the fee increment for 2017 will not be more than eight percent.
Addressing the media in Tshwane today, Nzimande said universities face an extremely difficult financial situation. He said the effects of last year’s suspension of fee adjustments and extra costs associated with insourcing added to this.
“We understand the legitimate student concerns about the affordability of university education. At the same time, we need to ensure that those who can afford to pay must pay,” Nzimande told the media.
Last year, students at universities closed down campuses and took to the streets to protest for free education, among other grievances. Nzimande noted that they, as the government, cannot stop students from protesting as this was their democratic right. But he said it is their wish, as government, that there is no disruption of the academic program.
Nzimande said it has been agreed that issues raised by students will be dealt with by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training Funding, appointed by President Jacob Zuma.
Commenting on the language policy which was among the student’s complaint, Nzimande said they encourage institutions to engage internally. “Many of these issues can be dealt with at an institution level,” he said.
The department’s budget is set to rise to R55.3 billion in the 2018/19 financial year from R42 billion in the 2015/16 financial year. Nzimande explained, “Expanded funding is targeted to support 205 000 students entering universities for the first time or continuing this year, and a further 200 000 students at TVET colleges. This means that a total of 405 000 students would receive government support to access universities and colleges in 2017.”