The report of the commission of inquiry, which was chaired by Judge Jonathan Arthur Heher, into higher education and training was released by the Presidency.Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
Johannesburg - The release of the highly-anticipated report of the Herer Commission, which looked into the feasibility of making higher education free in South Africa, garnered mixed reaction from youth organisations on Tuesday. 

The report by the commission, chaired by Justice Jonathan Heher, is in favour of a cost-sharing model that includes both government and banks.

The report was released on Monday by the Presidency.

"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.

The commission also recommended that registration and application fees at universities and colleges be "scrapped across the board".

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The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) has welcomed some of the recommendations.

"Notable is the recommendation of establishing an education fund which most institutions and individuals can contribute. We encourage that main players be both government and the private sector which should contribute," the league said in a statement released on Tuesday.

"ANCYL calls on the government of the ANC to take proactive action in fast tracking these in the National Assembly. The ANCYL calls on government to work tirelessly in ensuring that free education is implemented."

The youth league said the implementation of free education needs to happen from 2018 as it was essential to achieving radical economic transformation.

The South African Students’ Congress (Sasco) meanwhile branded the report a complete waste of time and resources.

"The question of the feasibility of free education in South Africa was long pronounced on by the Prof. Marcus Balintulo commission, the former vice Chancellor of Walter Sisulu Uuniversity, and current Commissioner of the planning commission," Sasco said.

"What this report has done is actually to take us steps back. The Higher Commission was infested with unnecessary delays and used as a cash milking cow for the commissioners."

Sasco added that while it welcomed the recommendation that registration and application fees be scrapped as well that relating to the TVET sector, it still remained convinced that President Jacob Zuma must discard the report.

"The president must simply shred this report as the crux of it, is the privatization of higher education funding and the further divide of the post-schooling education and training sector.

"The government must implement the first phase of free education by 2018 through forcing the private sector, increasing government allocation towards education, scrapping application and registration fees, improving and providing accommodation facilities, assisting the missing middle and dismantling the doors of learning and culture."