Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: Tracey Adams/African News Agency (ANA)

Student funding discussion set to resume in Parliament

By Siyabonga Mkhwanazi Time of article published Mar 20, 2021

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Cape Town - The Department of Higher Education will return to Parliament next week Tuesday to discuss the issue of funding as students intensified their campaign on the protests over funding.

The meeting between the department, universities and students with MPs also comes after Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said he was continuing with discussions with all the role players in the matter.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni also entered the fray this week when he told the National Council of Provinces that a solution has to be found.

Students have been protesting over the last two weeks and Mthokisizi Ntumba was shot and killed in Braamfontein when Wits students were protesting.

Some of the students were arrested but the National Prosecuting Authority later dropped the charges.

The South African Union of Students and Universities South Africa (USAf) were expected to appear before the portfolio committee on higher education with the department.

MPs have been urging all parties to find a solution.

Chairperson of the committee Philly Mapulane last week said all parties had to find a lasting solution and education remained a critical element in the government’s apex priorities.

Nzimande said in a statement yesterday he has met with USAf to discuss the funding shortfall.

The meeting acknowledged the financial stress following the impact of Covid-19 and other factors.

A task team was set up in the meeting to look into the issue of funding in the long-term.

The National Treasury had also cut funding across the state.

In the budget, the Treasury slashed funding in various departments and some of the departments were forced to re-prioritise their expenditure.

Nzimande said they were committed to finding a lasting solution to the education funding.

“We must work together as a system to collectively identify the medium to the long-term trajectory to a sustainable and stable student funding policy and to addressing the other issues relating to the funding of the higher education system,” said Nzimande.

The department of higher education also said vice-chancellors had seen the need to address the issue.

This issue of the funding of senior students and those in the missing middle was also being addressed, said the department.

It said these were important matters because the National Students Financial Aid Scheme has faced a shortfall.

The Cabinet also agreed last week to inject more cash to deal with the funding of students.

The department would have to re-prioritise and find R6 billion.

Political Bureau

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