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Presidency denies Zuma was going to announce free higher education

13 November 2017

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges will be the biggest winners if the fees commission report is fully implemented.

President Zuma's office denied reports that he is planning to announce free education for all, ignoring the Heher commission report. Subject to appropriate legislative amendments, the South Africa Revenue Service would collect the repayments through the income tax system.

The report was published just after mid day on Monday.

"I will make a pronouncement on the report once the ministers have concluded their work", he said.

Speculation is rife that Zuma will giving the thumbs up to free tertiary education.

All undergraduate and postgraduate student fees should be funded through a cost-sharing model, in which commercial banks would issue government-guaranteed loans to students that are payable upon their graduation.

The report, however, falls short of making higher education and training fee-free, raising fears that a new spate of student protest might erupt.

"The TEVT sector experienced budget cuts as a result of the protests, this affected the administration of colleges, but also the students directly as bursary allocations were reduced", states the report.

TVET graduates have a lower earning power and suffer challenges with their employability, the Commission found. TVET colleges have been regarded as the second-class option for students, and been stigmatised for providing an education that will retain existing inequalities in South African society.

Stipends are also to be made available through TVET colleges for needy students to cover full cost of study.

The Commission recommended that government adopt an affordable plan to develop more student accommodation and that Historically Disadvantaged Institutions be prioritised.

The Fees Commission Report outlined what the model would include.

It is unclear what will become of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) if the Commission recommendations are accepted.

"The evidence before the Commission regarding technical education is clear: Successful economies place an emphasis on producing technically qualified, work oriented graduates in numbers which outweigh those of university graduates", the report states.

Judge Jonathan Heher handed over the report to the President on 30 August 2017.

Presidency denies Zuma was going to announce free higher education