#MTBPS2016: Treasury allocates R8bil to fund no university fee increase for poor

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National Treasury has proposed an allocation of R8 billion to fund no fee increase for poor and “missing middle” university students in 2017.

In September, Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande announced that students from households earning R600 000 or less a year, would be exempt from paying increased fees on 2017, but will instead pay the 2016 fee, either through student loans from the (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) NSFAS, bursaries or any other means.

When asked where the money to cover the fees for these students would come from, Nzimande said he would leave that up to Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan to look into and announce.

“Minister Nzimande has rightly emphasised that expanded opportunities in our universities cannot rely on government funding alone,” Gordhan said. “At the heart of the issue is that access has expanded faster than resources. As a result, many students face financial hardships that undermine their ability to succeed academically.”

In addition to the R16 billion added to higher education funding in the February Budget Speech, Treasury proposes the following:

  • A further R9 billion for the NSFAS over the period ahead, raising its funding by over 18% a year
  • Over R8 billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes of up to R600 000.

“We will work with the corporate sector and financial institutions to expand bursaries, loans and work opportunities for students,” Gordhan said.

[Image – CC Wikimedia Commons]