PRETORIA, December 16 – Government will increase subsidies to universities from 0.68 percent to one percent of GDP over the next five years as recommended by the Heher Commission of Inquiry into higher education and training, and in line with comparable economies to address the overall gross underfunding of the sector, the presidency said on Saturday.
This would be done to “kick-start a skills revolution towards and in pursuit of the radical socio-economic transformation programme as outlined during the 2017 state-of-the-nation address, the presidency said in a statement.
The provision of fully subsidised free education and training would be extended to all current and future “poor and working class” South African students at all public technical vocational education and training (TVET) colleges starting in 2018 and phased-in over a period of five years, the statement said.
“All poor and working class South African students enrolled at public TVET colleges will be funded through grants not loans. For TVET colleges, full cost of study will include tuition fee, prescribed study material, meals, accommodation, and/or transport.”
The government would further invest in the training and development of existing TVET staff and the recruitment of additional qualified staff to improve the quality of teaching and learning at TVET colleges. Funds would also be directed towards the improvement of infrastructure in the TVET sector.
Regarding public universities, the presidency said that as a result of this substantial increase in subsidy to universities, there would be no tuition fee increment for students from households earning up to R600,000 a year during the 2018 academic year.
“Noting our nation’s staggering levels of income inequality and considering the definition of poor and working class students that has remained stagnant and outdated despite the escalating cost of living and studying, and in order to maximise the developmental impact of our pro-poor higher education policies, the definition of poor and working class students will now refer to ‘currently enrolled TVET colleges or university students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350,000’ by 2018 academic year. The minister of higher education and training shall revise this quantum periodically in consultation with the minister of finance,” the statement said.
Having amended the definition of poor and working class students, government would now introduce fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South African undergraduate students, starting in 2018 with students in their first year of study at public universities. Students categorised as poor and working class, under the new definition, would be funded and supported through government grants, not loans.
* The President increases University subsidy from 0.68% to 1% of GDP resulting in 0% increase on University Fees in 2018 for families earning below R600 000 per annum.
* Free Higher Education and Training is extended to 90% students at TVET Colleges from 2018 onwards.
* President extends Fully subsidised Free University Education for students from families earning below R350 000 per annum, starting with students in their 1st Year of Study in 2018 and phased in Year on Year until full coverage.
* “Poor and Working Class Students ” redefined from R122 000 to R350 000 combined annual household income.
* All NSFAS Loans allocated to existing NSFAS students (2nd Year Onwards) are converted from Loans to 100% Grant (FREE) effective immediately.
* New Accommodation to be built with urgency and priority given to Historically Black Universities.
* “This policy intervention will enable government to extend fully subsidised free higher education to youth from well over 90% of South African households. Duly, from 2018 onwards, eligible South African children of the unemployed, social grant recipients, South Africans earning below a minimum wage, domestic workers, farm workers, mine workers and entry level civil servants such as teachers, nurses, policemen, municipal workers, security guards, refuse collectors and informal traders amongst others will now access public universities and TVET colleges for free through grants provided by their government.” President Zuma said.
* “Free Higher Education for Poor and Working Class students is a standing and binding resolution of the ANC and Government.
– African News Agency (ANA)