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South Africa's Zuma says has no plans to announce free education programme

13 November 2017

Jacob Zuma's highly anticipated Fees Commission report was released at midday, and shed some light on the economic future of students.

The report, released by Zuma, recommends that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed Income-Contingency Loans sourced from commercial banks.

He said Zuma had appointed a commission of inquiry into higher education funding headed by Judge John Heher and waited for the Commission to conclude its business‚ saying at no stage did Zuma plan to make any announcements that would undermine the work of the commission.

For university students, though, the recommendations fall short of student demands for free education for all.

The collection and recovery of the loan will be undertaken by the South African Revenue Service.

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Instead, the Commission recommends state-guaranteed loans for university students, to be paid back only when a graduate reaches an acceptable salary level.

Among the findings of the Heher Commission was that there was now no capacity for the state to provide free tertiary education to all students in the country, opting for a multi-layered funding model.

For more than eight years, taxpayers' money has been used to pay for the President's legal costs in the so-called "Spy-Tapes" case.

The report also recommends that the government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least one percent of the GDP, in line with comparable economies.

According Hefer's report, the Technical and Vocational Education Training Colleges Governor's Council had submitted that it was underfunded by nearly R4.7bn in 2016.

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The Herher Commission has recommended that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), which now funds university students, be replaced by the income contingent loan system.

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

Presidency, Jeff Radebe, and the Presidential Fiscal Committee to process Heher's report in order to advise him on how to proceed further.

On Monday, Zuma said he had made a decision to release the Herher Commission report prior to the conclusion of government's work in processing it so that the public could have an opportunity to study the report.

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South Africa's Zuma says has no plans to announce free education programme