As expected, a report of the commission which looked into the feasibility of making higher education free in South Africa, released by President Jacob Zuma on Monday, found that government alone would not be able to foot the sizeable bill for such a reality.
The report by the commission, chaired by Justice Jonathan Heher, released on the presidency website, is in favour of a cost-sharing model that includes both government and banks.
“The commission recommends that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges, regardless of their family background, be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks,” according to the report’s recommendations.
“Through this cost-sharing model, the commission recommends that commercial banks issue government guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold. Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold, government bears the secondary liability.”
The commission also recommended that registration and application fees at universities and colleges be “scrapped across the board”.
Funding for postgraduate students should be funded through the National Research fund, based on NRF criteria and merit.
“The commission further recommended for postgraduate students to have access to a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed income-contingency loans sourced from commercial banks (ICL).
The recommendation also included that government increase its spend on higher education to total at least one percent of GDP (gross domestic product) to bring it in line with countries with similar economies.
Last month, students marched to Parliament to demand Zuma release the report after it was leaked, with reports in Sunday newspapers that the commission found free higher education was not feasible because the country could not afford it.
The media earlier this week reported that Zuma was pushing for a plan by his future son-in-law Morris Masutha on free higher education to be adopted.