NO STUDENT SHOULD BE DENIED ACCESS TO HIGHER EDUCATION, SAYS PRESIDENT ZUMA

President Jacob Zuma says no student in South Africa should be denied access to higher education and training.

Fielding oral questions in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, here Wednesday, he said: "The government is committed to ensure affordable higher education for all and to support poor and working class students to access higher education and training.

"Government supports that university fees should be regulated and be made available to all. No student should be denied access on the basis that their families are not able to afford fees. As government, we want all children from poor families to study at universities and TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) colleges," he said.

The president had been asked if the government has, with reference to the registration of university student in 2017, reached a consensus with students on whether there must be no tuition fees.

He said after consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including elected student leaders, the government announced that all students at universities and TVET colleges from families with an income of up to 600,000 Rand a year will experience no fee increment.

"This includes the poor and the so-called missing middle, who are students from households who have an annual income of between 120,000 and 600,000 Rand," he added.

"This follows the announcement of the Minister of Higher Education and Training [Blade Nzimande] on the 19th of August 2016 that the university fee increase for the 2017 academic year should be capped at 8.0 per cent.

"No institution has announced a fee increment of more than 8.0 per cent. The Government will carry a fee increase through a gap funding grant on behalf of all poor working class and missing middle families."

On Wednesday, he also released the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry which he had set up earlier this year to look into the feasibility of fee-free higher education and training in South Africa.

"The report covers the following areas: an overview by stakeholders of the terms of reference of the commission; post school education and training in South Africa and the funding of institutions of higher education and training and understanding their operational costs," he said.

The President said the commission was yet to address five other areas, which include: the nature, accessibility and effectiveness of student funding by government; private sector and foreign aid;

meaning and content of fee-free higher education and training; alternative sources of funding; and socio-economic and financial implications of fee-free higher education and training and the extent of such a provision.

"The final report is expected on 30th June 2017," he said.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK.