Zuma+Nzimande+SACP+ANC 16 August 2016 The South African Communist Party (SACP) notes latest developments in higher education and training, in particular, in universities, relating to student fees. The Party is deeply concerned about false claims that the government had recommended a fee increase for 2017 academic year. The SACP commends the Department of Higher Education and Training for swiftly clarifying that no such a decision was taken because it is still consulting widely and extensively with university stakeholders, including students, but as well as within government with other relevant authorities and broadly in society as education is, and must be seen to be, a societal priority. The SACP notes that the Commission on Higher Education and Training, the Fees Commission, has not concluded its work, and therefore calls for a no fee increase! The SACP reaffirms its policy position for a progressive rollout of free higher education and training for the historically disadvantaged, in particular students from working class and poor families who are not in a position to afford students fees. The state must intervene decisively to avoid them facing financial exclusion resulting from their class position and location caused by the system of capitalist exploitation and its effects of low paying jobs, high levels of inequality, unemployment and poverty. The rich and the well off must accordingly contribute, including by means of student fees, to reduce and ultimately eliminate inequality in higher education and training given that the state subsidises the education of all students. The SACP nevertheless notes that state subsidies to higher learning institutions have declined relative to Gross Domestic Product in the past 22 years, increasingly shifting most of the burden of access to, and making it dependent on student fees that are not even determined in line with household income or sensitive to other material and cultural needs facing working class and poor families. The Party is therefore calling on the state to turn the tide by increasing the budget allocated to the Higher Education and Training Department. Without sufficient resources, the massive and highly welcome progress the department has made since its establishment in 2009 adding on the work done since 1994 will be hamstrung. Further, the SACP supports investigation into the cost drivers of higher education towards greater regulation and calls for the development of shared services nationally to cut costs by leveraging economies of scale. The state must expand the sector by adding more new colleges and universities over and above the all-important two new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatjie. Both universities and colleges must increase student success rate as part of the measures to expand access and most important ensure fruitful utilisation of public resources. Issued by the SACP PICTURE: TEBOGO LETSIE (RDM)