Cape Town - As expected, a report of the commission which looked into the feasibility of making higher education free in South Africa, released by President Jacob Zuma on Monday, found that government alone would not be able to foot the sizeable bill for such a reality.
The report by the commission, chaired by Justice Jonathan Heher, which was released on the presidency website, is in favour of a cost-sharing model that includes both government and banks.
"The commission 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," according to the report's recommendations.
"Through this cost-sharing model, the commission recommends that commercial banks issue government guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold. Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bears the secondary liability."
The commission also recommended that registration and application fees at universities and colleges be "scrapped across the board".
The commission also recommends that R50 billion from the Unemployment Insurance Fund should be taken to contribute to the infrastructure development of TVET Colleges. The commission also believes that TVET Colleges should be fee-free for all and should be affordable for the state if recommendations such sourcing funding from the UIF are implemented.
Funding for post graduate students should be funded through the National Research fund, based on NRF criteria and merit.
"The commission further recommended for postgraduate students to have access to a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks (ICL).
The recommendation also included that government increase its spend on higher education to total at least one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to bring it in line with countries with similar economies.
The fess commission was largely prompted by the widespread protests across the country's universities as students demanded free education. The protests which were named #FeesMustFall started in 2015 following universities announcing increases on fees.
Zuma has been largely criticised for "sitting" on the report for months after it was handed over to him for consideration.
It was revealed over the weekend that Zuma had his own plans on how to solve the higher education crisis in the country and it involves sourcing funding from various departments to come with billions to provide for free education.
His plan has been largely criticised as many believe it would lead to a economic collapse. It was reported in the Sunday Times that Zuma plan was being headed by his future son-in -law.
Zuma said on Monday that he chose to release the fees report “early”, while a Presidential Fiscal Committee studies the report, so that members of the public can digest its content.
He said he will make pronouncement after the committee has concluded its work.
African News Agency and IOL