Nzimande Fails to Meet Deadline on Pronouncing if 2017 Fees Will Fall or Not
The South African Students Congress, Sasco says it will have another meeting with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Thursday, after failing to find common ground at their meeting on the issue of fees. Nzimande conceded that he was unable to meet Wednesday's deadline to pronounce on the 2017 fee structure. This comes after reports that Nzimande made an undertaking that by the end of August the department will make an announcement. Earlier this month, various student formations threatened to shut down universities if fees were increased. That was prompted by news that the Council for Higher Education had proposed a six percent hike for next year. Higher Education and Training Minister says talks about university fee adjustments for 2017 are continuing. He has been in extensive on-going consultations with university vice-chancellors, student leaders and government officials following last year's student protests against tariff increases. “We are not dealing with an easy matter and by the way some of the stakeholders themselves have asked for more time to be able to discuss this matter in terms of how we will deal with it.” The Minister says there are a number of issues that still need to be discussed which are not easy. “One of them is the fact that, one of the unintended consequences of an no fee increase this year was that of rich parents who could afford scholarships and bursaries, who could afford a no increase but still got away with a no increase.” Students will have to wait a little longer to find out whether they will be paying more towards university fees next year. Sasco deputy president Tsakani Shibiti says, "The challenges then was the decision of universities to increase fees with six-percent, which we're against. And we said we do not want to discuss the issue of fee increments. what we want to know is that a poor black student next year will not struggle to access higher education." CEO of Universities SA, Ahmed Bawa says the minister told them in a recent meeting that he was working very closely with Treasury to find a solution. Universities SA represents all 26 universities in the country. Bawa says an announcement is expected before the end of September. "Basically what he said is that there's a lot of work being undertaken at the department together with Treasury. And that he'll be making an announcement around the middle of September. We're still very anxiously awaiting some news about whether there'll be some level of cost-subsidisation or whether there'll be some level of input from the business sector. And those are the things that we don't know about yet."