Higher Education epartment’s resolution to increase fees for 2017 academic year and the resultant effect has placed much worry on government and economists who fear for its negative effect on the SA economy especially as SA has no money.
Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced on Monday that universities in the country can increase fees for 2017 but they must not exceed 8%.
He also said after much consultation with stakeholders on possible ways to handle the situation and to ensure that the inflation-linked fee adjustments of the 2015 fee baseline are affordable to financially needy students, the government has committed to finding the resources to support all students.
The government would, therefore, assist households with an income of up to R600 000 per annum with subsidy funding to cover the gap between the 2015 fee and adjusted 2017 fee at the relevant institutions.
From his announcement, 70% to 80% of undergraduate students across the country will either be covered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) or face no fee increases next year.
Hence, in a bid to remedy the situation, the Treasury tries to scramble for money to fund the Zero fee increase for the poor and working-class students as already promised despite the fact that Treasury SA has no money.
Addressing this, prominent South African Economist, Dawie Roodt warned on Tuesday that Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande had made promises SA cannot afford to keep.
“We have talked ourselves into a corner. What is happening here is because politicians don’t know how to handle this,” he said, pointing out that the state could not honor the promise following the recent economic stand of the country.
Roodt said it was difficult for students to understand that SA won’t afford free education for all as promised when billions of taxpayers’ money were spent salvaging state-owned enterprises.
According to Business Day Live, the economist cited recent R5bn bail-out granted to South African Airways by the Treasury and the 2015 Eskom’s R60bn loan being written as examples of the government’s poor decision-making.
“How can they [the government] write off R60bn for Eskom last year but can’t afford R2.5bn?” he asked.
The days after Nzimande announced the fee hike has been fettered by series of student protests resulting to a number of universities being temporarily shut down even as students battle it out with police and university security.
To this, economist Roodt said the issue was that SA has no money but students still see money being mismanaged and corruption running rampant in government departments and yet they were being told there was no money to fund free education.