SA universities prepare for chaotic registration process

South African tertiary institutions are set to face a chaotic registration period this month as a result of the confusion surrounding president Jacob Zuma’s free higher education plan.

City Press reported that the presidency, Treasury and the department of higher education have not been able to source the money required for the education plan, with Treasury noting that it has no plans to source funds from the Internal Monetary Fund.

The paper noted that finance minister Malusi Gigaba has already stated that the fiscus is facing a shortfall of R51 billion for the coming financial year, with additional details to be outlined in his 2018/19 budget speech in February.

The president’s new funding policy would include tuition, accommodation, food and transport costs for unable students.

Universities SA CEO Ahmed Bawa said the association was concerned about the sustainability of the new education plan.

Institutions are also worried about the EFF Student Command, who have threatened to shut down campuses around the country if they do not accept walk-in registrants.

A large increase in potential students is expected due to the free higher education plan, and the EFF Student Command reportedly said it would block access to universities if walk-in applicants were not accommodated.

Bawa told the City Press that universities would redirect walk-in applicants to online registrations portals due to a shortage of space.

Intelligence agencies are reportedly working with student structures to handle any possible security threats.

Free higher education will be implemented over a five-year period, beginning with first-year students and later expanding to all university students who meet the financial criteria.

Recent reports suggested that Zuma planned to make up the required funds by cutting back departmental budgets across the government.

The plan may involve drastic budget cuts, including cutting social grants, freezing the rollout of RDP houses, and increasing taxes.

Read: Free Higher education won’t be coming in 2018

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SA universities prepare for chaotic registration process