The highly anticipated Fees Commission report has finally been released. Needless to say, only time will tell what impact it will have.
The commission plays a central role in deciding whether South Africa can carry the weight of free higher education for all. The report is a response to #FeesMustFall and aims to address the structural inequalities facing South Africans who want to study but can’t afford it.
The latest wave of student protests this year was caused by an increase in university fees for 2018, despite claims last year that free education could be possible.
The report is over 750 pages and pretty inaccessible, TBH. You can view the full report online but most of us don’t have the technical jargon to understand what it really means for South African education.
That’s why we’ve broken it down and given you some of the key points from the executive summary:
1 Everyone has the right to further education and the government is going to make that happen – eventually.
2 Making education totally free is not possible for our current economic needs as a country. Anybody who’s studying now or in the near future will still feel the pressure of unaffordable fees.
3 BUT application and registration should be free
4 If you are part of a disadvantaged group who can’t afford fees, government will try provide financial assistance.
5 The Commission says that before they can get to the bottom of making tertiary education free, they need to take a look at the education sector as a whole – for example, primary-school fees and high-school fees
5 According to the Commission, the current way we handle fees through grants and bursaries is unsustainable and inefficient.
6 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) are forms of higher-learning institutions that focus on teaching skills and providing knowledge for basic employment. The Commission says this is where SA should be pooling our resources (R50-billion!) as free education can be possible at these types of institutions.
7 Where does one find a casual R50-billion? The Commission says the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) is the first place to start. Allegedly, the UIF has R99-billion that’s just chilling.
8 A cash-sharing method for funding university fees for students who can’t afford it is where the Commission says we should be heading. The income contingent loan (ICL) plan will split the responsibility of free education between institutions of higher learning and private sectors.
9 Another way to raise cash? The Commission recommends creating an education fund where anybody, including businesses and charities, can donate.
10 BBBEE points (employment equity) should be used for funding disadvantaged students’ fees.