ANC#Government has acted# ANC leads

The ANC subcommittee on Education and Health and Science and Technology, in its meeting this morning, received a briefing requested from the Minister of Higher Education and Training. The subcommittee acknowledged the following transformation gains achieved by the ANC government since the advent of democracy:

  • Awarded approximately R50 billion in loans and bursaries to about 1.5 million students
  • Increased student bursary funding at TVET colleges from R318 million in 2010 to R2.2 billion in 2015.
  • Increased student bursary funding at universities from R2.2 billion in 2010 to R4.1 billion in 2015.

The ANC government is committed to ensuring that academically capable poor South Africans can access post-school education, and has responded to the concerns raised by university students in 2015.

The following will be done:

In response to the campaign for no fee increases in 2016, government has provided R1,9 billion of the R2.3 billion shortfall created by the no fee increase agreement. In addition to this, government has reprioritised R4.582 billion of State funding in the 2016/17 financial year to be allocated to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to provide:

  • for loans amounting to R2.543 billion to assist 71 753 identified students, who qualified for NSFAS funding but were either partially or not funded at all over the past three academic years; and
  • an additional allocation of R2.039 billion to ensure that any of these students, still in the university system in 2016, are supported financially to continue and complete their qualifications.

This funding is on top of the R10 billion that NSFAS will administer in the 2016 academic year.

The following are important provisions arising from this massive injection of funds:

The main challenge remains the `missing middle`-students who are above the NSFAS threshold but for whom university education is unaffordable. Various short, medium, and long-term steps are in place for this important group.

  • NSFAS is putting in place a process to develop a new funding model to provide loans for students that do not meet the NSFAS criteria, but who require financial assistance to access higher education, the so-called “missing middle”. This new funding model will be tested in the 2017 academic year for full implementation in 2018.
  • A Presidential Commission of inquiry into higher education funding and other issues has been set up, under the leadership of Honourable Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher, to examine fee structures and mechanisms to make higher education more affordable. The Commission has 8 months to conclude its report. The ANC urges all stakeholders, experts, and concerned parties to engage with the Commission.

The ANC supports the principle that those who can afford to pay for higher education should pay, in the interests of social justice and ensuring that we maintain the quality of our institutions. Our funding model is dependent on fees, and our universities would be closed, some within a matter of weeks, some within a matter of months, if students and their parents who can afford to do so, do not pay fees.

The ANC calls on students to register and start the academic year without disruptions. We call on parents and the broader community to support universities to get learning underway as fast as possible

It is never desirable to have a heavy presence of police and security companies on university campuses. However, the right of students to learn must be defended. Small groups of violent students and other violent individuals cannot be allowed to close down universities. The ANC supports university managements in protecting the right of students to register, learn, and write examinations, as well as protecting the public assets of our universities. We call on all concerned students, staff, and others to engage in legitimate and peaceful forms of protest, which will negate the need for an undesirable security presence on our campuses.

Issued by ANC

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