Students from the four biggest universities in the Western Cape were disgruntled following President Jacob Zuma’s release of the Heher Commission report on free higher education yesterday.
The Commission of Inquiry into the Feasibility of Making High Education and Training Fee-free in South Africa was chaired by Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher, assisted by advocate Gregory Ally and Leah Khumalo.
The report concluded that tertiary education should be funded through a cost-sharing model that includes the government and banks.
University of the Western Cape (UWC) student Sikhulule Mamkeli said: “We expected this from the commission. Nothing positive has come out from the commission. We know that it was just a recommendation and that is not binding.
“We were hoping the president could give us free education. But we expected this from the commission. I think they are using this free education thing for the 2019 elections to keep the ANC in power,” Mamkeli added.
“We know that the university will not give us free education. We need to come together and consolidate our voice and perhaps take the fight to the government up until we get free education because it is affordable.”
This was echoed by Songezo Mazizi, also of UWC, who said: “We reject the fees commission that says free education for all is unaffordable.
"We believe there is a lot of money in this country that can fund education. We reject the report - we want the president to make the call for free education for all.
“Free decolonised education is possible as we speak. There is a lot of money that needs to be channelled in the right way because we know for a fact that it can fund free education for the undergraduate student.”
Stellenbosch University student Leighton September said: “As a student I am disappointed that free education is not viable at this moment. This means that the #FeesMustFall in the last two years was disregarded.
"I do like and respect they subjected registration fees be scrapped across the board. Regarding NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme); this is where the government needs to step up.
"There should be free education for the poor, a subsidy for the missing middle and dependable income.”
Closer to the city, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) student Anda Dingela said how he felt regarding Zuma’s announcement was difficult to explain as a black student from a poor background.
“South Africa is the most powerful and rich country in the world when it comes to minerals. I do not see anything wrong in us using that money to pay for free education. We must remove the white monopoly capitalist,” he said.
“NSFAS is a loan and they are trying to find another loan system? It is the same thing. We do not want another loan. We want the government to pay for education or to make education free for all.”
Former UCT SRC president Seipati Tshabalala said: “Given the fact that the country has money to pay for nuclear weapons, bailing out SAA (South African Airways) and Telkom - I agree a lot with institutions that say free education is possible.
"I’m not surprised by the summarised declaration that free education is not feasible.”