The CEO of Alan Gray Orbis Foundation Anthony Farr offered his opinion on the Fees Must Fall Movement, saying that a tuition free tertiary education system would adversely affect the quality of education and the graduates produced in the university.
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“Ultimately if fees are free it has an impact of reducing the quantity that we need and ultimately, I would argue, it would reduce the quality,” he said.
CEO Farr alongside University of Witwatersrand Vice Chancellor Adam Habib, and University of Pretoria student and secretary general of the Economic Freedom Fighters’ student command, Wenzile Madonsela was part of a panel set up to discuss the Fees Must Fall movement at the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences in Johannesburg alongside.
In a previous statement, Wits Vice Chancellor Adam Habib said the tertiary institutions were not meeting up with the demands of the nation in terms of producing the adequate number of graduates the country and the economy needed to address inequality and increasing poverty in society.
Habib estimated that out of about 1.1 million Grade 1 learners who entered the education system, only about 30 000 of them graduated from a university at the appropriate time.
He suggested two ways of addressing the problem as either an increase in taxes or completely running a tuition free tertiary education system.
Farr on the other hand disagreed with Habib on the grounds that a tuition free tertiary education system would not address the policy requirement outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
“The challenge with pure free education is that ultimately it cannot achieve the most significant policy requirements of this country.
“The NDP goals are incredibly ambitious and we are not even going to get close (to meeting them).
“We have to double the number of graduates from when it was released, we have to triple the number of PhDs and if you are only getting fees from taxes it is ultimately a limited pool (of funds),” he said.
He also added that the issue of retaining students in the universities was even bigger than just about funding, because even the foundation itself with 750 students in its system at the moment was passing through some difficulties retaining its own recipients.