Political parties have raised concerns over government’s inability to resolve student fee crisis faced by the SA tertiary institutions for the past 10 months.
Speaking in a parliamentary debate on student fees as a matter of national importance held, members of the parliament charged the government to seek a quick and relevant means to address the fees crisis that has rocked most SA universities.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said government has done nothing to address the situation for the past 10 months- only rhetoric and empty promises.
He therefore proposed that the budget be amended to cut away excess spending gotten from non-service orientated items to higher education investment.
He also proposed the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), be audited to rid it of fraud. A parliamentary ad hoc committee should try to find a solution to the university fee crisis, he added.
DA MP Belinda Bozzoli on the other hand, stated clearly the fact that neither universities nor students can be looked upon for solution to the fee crisis; that the private sector could and should assist‚ but it was unlikely they would do so at the scale required — which was in the billions
“That leaves only one candidate: the government. President (Jacob) Zuma’s hapless outfit of losers and dubious characters‚ in fact‚ must pay‚” Bozzoli said.
“Yet‚ the very notion of higher education is derided. Our president sneers at what he calls ‘clever blacks’. Graduates are told they have ‘wasted’ or ‘useless’ degrees. The myth persists that graduate unemployment is high whereas it is only at 5%. And so on.
“We indulge this anti-intellectualism at our peril. It reveals us to be a small-minded society without a real vision for a developed future‚” she said, pointing out that the DA was able to identify R2.7bn in the 2016/17 budget which could have been transferred to assist poor students.
The DA therefore proposed that the poorest students should be adequately while the “missing middle” students receive support‚ proportional to their financial standing.
The party also proposed that better-off students should not receive government financial support for fees or other expenses and university subsidies should move gradually towards the level of 50% of costs.
Meanwhile the ANC MP Connie September commends government for the progress made in higher education since democratization. He said higher education is no longer insular and elite-orientated. “Much has been achieved despite the legacy of the past. We now have 1-million students in public institutions‚” September added.