Another 0% fee increase will see 19 universities closing doors in 2018 - Nzimande

AUGUST 24, 2016

While universities and students across the country anxiously await government's decision on the 2017 fees, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Higher Education on Wednesday welcomed initiatives taken by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, to brief the Committee on advice received from the Council of Higher Education (CHE) on university fees for 2017.

The Chairperson of the Committee, Connie September, said consideration needs to be given to create lasting stability at institutions of higher education.

“As yet, no decision has been taken on university fee increases and thus there is no need to threaten closing institutions of higher learning. We call on all stakeholders in the sector to collectively work towards consensus to improve education for all,” September said.

“The Committee notes the advice received from CHE, but further consultations are still being undertaken, including with the National Treasury. Solutions arising from these consultations should allay uncertainty, but also should not disadvantage the poorest of the poor.”

Minister Nzimande came to brief the Committee on Wednesday on the progress being made on fee increases for the 2017 academic year.

He revealed that the CHE had indicated that if the 0% fee increases continued, about 19 universities will become dysfunctional in 2018, and that if increases were to be based on CPI, about 10 universities will be rendered dysfunctional.

The Chairperson said the Committee will look to supplement the work that the Department is doing. She also voiced satisfaction with the regulatory framework being mooted for fees in the future.

Meanwhile, academic business was suspended at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) for the second day as students aligned with the South African Students Congress (SASCO) again blocked entrances to the university in the morning in response to a call by the SASCO Eastern Cape leadership that all campuses in the province be shutdown in protest over a possible fee increase for the 2017 academic year.

The institution on Wednesday said that it was also aware of a voice note that was doing rounds threatening students, who might want to access its campuses.