The South African Students Congress (Sasco) has no sympathy with universities’ claims that they will be financially crippled if they are not allowed to increase fees, its secretary general Tembani Makata told News24.
“This year, we say the fee increase must not be applicable to poor students, those belonging to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the missing middle. We are trying to meet them halfway by saying international students and those funded by bursaries can be subjected to increase. They must come on board. They are not playing ball,” she said,
Makata was reacting to a News24 report that tertiary institutions had warned that anything below an 8% increase would cripple them financially.
Makata said this was another way for universities to behave like “corporates interested in making a profit”.
“Last year, universities had their increase, but it was paid for by government. In general, they are not assisting us towards achieving a countrywide goal of no fees. They have made it their business to annually increase fees, even if it’s not necessary… For them to just want a blanket approach to say we are not going to take into consideration the poor is counterproductive,” Makata said.
City Press reported at the weekend that President Jacob Zuma had ordered Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande to find money to fund a 0% fee increase.
‘They know what we want’
Makata said she was hoping that Nzimande would come up with a plan that would not demand a reaction from students.
“We are just hoping, for the sake of everything, they will come with a response that will not ensure a reaction from us because this would disrupt our academic programme as we had to examinations. They know what we want from them,” she added.
Nzimande has not yet announced the fee increase recommendations for next year, saying he still needed to consult with all stakeholders.
He told journalists on Monday last week that a decision on university fee increases for 2017 would be made before the end of the month.
This comes as a commission of inquiry looks at the feasibility of free education in the country.
Fees Must Fall student leaders have warned government and universities that any fee increment for 2017 would lead to a resumption of protests.