A Ministerial Task Team (MTT) has been established by government to address the challenges and find long-term, sustainable solutions for the Higher Education sector. Primarily concerning the lack of affordability to pay fees by students and or their families. The MTT is comprised of student leaders, parents, universities, relevant stakeholders) and includes Ministers of Communications, Human Settlements and Finance & Social Development.
Minister Jeff Radebe did urge students to return to class as the negative effects of not completing the 2016 academic year would be enormous. He indicated that all student studies from first year to final year may be delayed, graduating students may also not be able to enter and participate in the economy and it could lead to the current matriculants not being admitted into higher education in 2017. The minister indicated that government had received a number of proposals for solutions and the process of evaluation was underway.
The minister advised that:
- In the 2016/17 financial year, government has allocated …a budget of R49.2 billion for Higher Education.
- Cabinet believes that it is only through our investment in education as a country that we can make meaningful progress in addressing the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
- Government … will subsidise the 2017 fee adjustment of up to 8%, to pay the fee increase through a gap-funding grant on behalf of all poor, working class and so called “missing middle” students – students with a family household income of up to R600 000 per annum”.
- This subsidy will amount to about R2.5 billion.
- The implementation will be phased and depends on resources available and growth rate of enrolments.