There Is No Free Higher Education For All - Nzimande
The Minister in charge of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has the task of finding resolutions to all the issues students have been protesting about for years. He has now made it clear that there is no free higher education for all as government has previously said that they can't afford it.
Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, has made it clear that there is no free higher education for all.
The latest protests in higher education were happening at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT). These students are marching for free education and for historic debt to be written off.
Students have also demanded that the missing middle population is provided for. Cabinet has requested that Nzimande presents a proposal by June on how to deal with students who do not qualify for funding in terms of government policy.
The Minister then spoke on the situation and emphasised government student funding policies as he believes that in the midst of protest, "things get fudged or they get deliberately extorted".
Government policy is we will support poor and working class students in higher education to acquire at least the first undergraduate qualification and what is the criteria for that? Criteria is that all students who come from families who earn not more than R350 000 per annum will be supported.
This is the Minister speaking about NSFAS.
The National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)
NSFAS is a bursary scheme to support University and TVET College students which sees students not only have their fees paid for but they also receive NSFAS allowances.
The Minister made it clear that no NSFAS student will have to pay registration fees and no NSFAS student will be financially excluded if they meet the criteria.
"The government has met it's deal. Now that gets lost in the process. In other words, we will be funding all those students who qualify and will have been accepted into a University or a College who come from this. There is no government policy which says 'free higher education for all', I want to make that clear," the Minister explains.
Nzimande goes on to say that government policy has always been oriented towards the poor, whether it's a social grant, no fees schools and other support.
The Missing Middle
He does however acknowledge the fact that there are students who fall outside of the poor and working class bracket with household incomes coming to be more than R350 000 per year but can't afford to pay fees. This is what is called the missing middle, where little financial support is seen.
Government is said to be looking into how these types of students will be assisted. This might be through a loan scheme, which NSFAS originally was, or a mix of a loan and a bursary.
If parents have more than two children at University and are earning between R350 000 and R600 000, NSFAS will support you.
We get crucified as Government as if we are doing nothing. Children of the working class and the poor, they get free higher education.
The Minister has said that he will be asking his department to find out what was happening at MUT as there are issues that are unacceptable.
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