Yesterday the president Jacob Zuma released the Fees Commission report which is a report looking into the feasibility of free higher education and training in South Africa after a lot of pressure from protesting students and the public in the last few months (or past couple of years depending on how you look at it). The release of this report which can be accessed here sent South Africa and twitter into a frenzy and started trending. Like all things Jacob Zuma does, the report was not welcomed with open arms as it did not give students what they wanted, which is free education. The report suggests that free education is not feasible and proposes a new system they call the Income Contingent Loan (ICL).
Summary of the Fees Commission Report
- Nsfas would be replaced by this ICL system which is sourced from banks. Therefore, students would still be in debt.
- Collection of this student loan from banks would be handled by SARS.
- Students would only start repaying the loan once they reach a specified income level.
- The government will repay the loan after a specific period of time to the bank and then the student would owe the government.
- Registration fees would be scrapped at all government higher education institutions.
- Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students shall receive fully subsidized free education in the form of grants.
- The government shall look into online and blended learning as an alternative solution to solve the higher education funding issue.
- The government plans to develop more student accommodation especially for historically disadvantaged institutions.
Basically, what this means is that there will be no free education for university students but there will be free education for TVET students. Instead of owing NSFAS you will now owe banks. Students can say bye bye to their loans being converted into bursaries if NSFAS is replaced by this ICL system. There will also be an increased focus on newer subjects and opportunities like E-commerce, information systems and digital marketing.
Many South Africans are opposed to this, if you check out the #FeesCommission report hashtag on twitter you will see that many reject its findings and suggestions. The release of this report is unlikely to stop protesting or prevent future #FeesMustFall protests.
Some Interesting Tweets on the Fees Commission Report
After all that’s happened the #FeesCommission Report suggests handing the whole system over to the banking sector! A totally unworkable and unnecessarily complicated loan system that STILL places the burden on students and guarantees continued instability in higher education.
— Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (@SizweMpofuWalsh) 13 November 2017
— IG: @MbuyiseniNdlozi (@MbuyiseniNdlozi) 13 November 2017
When the EFF said we must nationalise the banks, y’all said they are mad. Jacob Zuma is using the same banks to put black poor students into debt with unscrupulous banks. Who’s mad now? #FeesCommission #FeesMustFall pic.twitter.com/xlBvdlOpP9
— Man’s Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux) 13 November 2017
I fail to understand how can SA not afford free education, yet Zimbabwe, Botswana and many other countries affords it. How do those countries afford it and we can’t #FeesCommission #FeesCommissionReport #FeesMustFall
— Sphiwe (@KasieNova) 14 November 2017