File picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Media
File picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Media

Student funding models mooted

By Given Majola Time of article published Jul 21, 2017

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DURBAN - The type of funding model that South Africa comes up with in response to the #FeesMustFall student movement should not be one that compromises students.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Student Representative Council (SRC) president Noxolo Bhengu said they would not allow a model that would be a money-making scheme at the expense of students.

“Whatever funding model is developed should not neglect the fact that blacks are previously disadvantaged and are still not economically liberated,” Bhengu said.

“Even though a student may come from a middle-class family and be deemed able to pay, the reality is that their parents still have other expenses to take care of.”

She said students were unlikely to accept a funding model that left them indebted or gave them an inferior qualification.

Bhengu spoke to the Daily News on the sidelines of the Absa-UKZN Thought Leadership Forum held last night to discuss “Alternative Student Funding Models for Higher Education Sector”.

Absa handed over a R10million cheque to the UKZN Foundation at the event.

UKZN vice-chancellor Dr Albert van Jaarsveld said the declining government subsidy and accruing expenses for university caused the situation to be untenable.

“We were creating a situation where you have to pay as you go to stay at university.

This made the situation untenable for the vast majority of students because most fall below the R600000 household income thresholds and are financially overstretched,” Van Jaarsveld said.

“That is when it became clear to us that this model of funding was no longer good for us. A new innovative model was needed.”

Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection’s political economy researcher David Maimela said the issue was also a political matter.

“Since basic education is a fundamental right, higher education is for the public and private sector’s good. Hence, the state should ensure it,” he said.

Maimela said that access, quality and sustainability should be considered when developing the funding model.

“In the long-term, the solution to the university funding matter may not lie in the money, but in technology.

“In the medium-term, Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges should be improved to the status of universities and in the short-term, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme should come to the party,” he said.

Absa’s group head of citizenship, Sazini Mojapelo, said when the #FeesMustFall movement was started there was no one who did not ask what they could do to help, including the private sector.

“We also wanted to come up with an innovative solution for the next generation of our employees and clientele. It is also in our interest for students to stay in universities,” Mojapelo said.

The UKZN SRC president said that now that there was a general consensus that free tertiary education for the poor was achievable, the talks should stop.

“We now have to come up with an implementation plan,” said Bhengu.

Daily News

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