Gov Has Done It's Part For Free Education - Nzimande
The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, continues to emphasise that government has met it's side of the deal when it comes to free education. Students all over South Africa were protesting for free education and for historic debt to be wiped.
Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, has said that Government has done it's part for free education.
Students across the country were protesting for free education and for Government to wipe all historic debt. To this, Nzimande said:
it is beyond government's commitments.
Minister Nzimande continued to explain that Government has done their part when it comes to providing free education through NSFAS which provides bursaries to poor and working class students. This does however exclude missing middle students.
In speaking on the missing middle, he recognised that this is now their current challenge.
This then lead him to say that he can't commit to saying Government will do more. A loan scheme with some bursary features is an idea expressed by the Minister.
One avenue of funding available to missing middle students is through the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP).
On wiping historic debt, Government is said to have been engaging Universities to ask what the institutions can do to help them address this. The Minister also said that they are engaging with Student Representative Councils to say who actually qualifies for assistance with registering.
Government has therefore set up a criteria for students who can register even if they have debt. This includes students who are doing well academically and deserving and they would then have to sign an acknowledgement of debt form.
Cabinet has taken a decision that the Minister must get back to them by June with a proposal on how to deal with these issues.
The Minister then said that he is collecting data and asking Universities for details to see what can be done to assist students. In trying to find the exact details of student debt at Universities, they will look at the following:
- What is the profile of student debt in each institution and then bring it together.
- If there is debt that can be written off which would be debt that is not collectable anymore
- Which students are owing
- What category of students do students with debt fall under
Nzimande expects to receive this information by Friday and will then hand it over to Government.
Negotiations and discussions at institutional level is the best route so far.
"We understand the plight of these students, that is why as government we are collecting this information," said the Minister.
He continues to engage with Universities South Africa (USAf) and student leadership.
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