OPINION

Fees report: Loans will perpetuate the cycle of poverty - DASO

Yusuf Cassim advocates a funding model that cushions poor students against short and long-term financial burdens

Fees Commission Report: Loans will perpetuate the cycle of poverty

The Democratic Alliance Students’ Organisation (DASO) notes the recommendations contained in the Fees Commission Report released by The Presidency.

In line with the DA’s proposed student funding model we released earlier this year, we are glad that the report does contain recommendations to scrap registration and application fees, to fully subsidise the cost of study for TVET colleges and to increase funds for universities.

However, DASO has some concerns with the Report’s recommendation of a ‘learn now and pay later’ approach. According to this approach, students will get loan funding via a complex series of financial mechanisms and will be required to repay their loans once their income reaches a certain level after graduation. We are concerned that even though the repayment of these loans will only take place once students are gainfully employed, poor students will carry huge debts after their studies, possibly perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

In its submission to the Commission, the DA proposed a model which would fully subsidise the full cost of study for poor students and proportionally subsidise missing middle students. This would enable access to quality higher education while ensuring that no deserving poor student is left behind, under the weight of enormous debt.

President Zuma and the ANC government continue to play politics with the future of students by stating that the report’s recommendations are still under review. We fear that this administration lacks the political will to bring stability to the higher education sector, or it simply does not care.

Furthermore, if circulating rumours are anything to go by, President Zuma is hell-bent on inflicting a body blow on the fiscus by implementing a higher education funding model suggested by his son in law. The proposal is not only a bad idea, it is a mad idea that carries the potential to further damage the economy, appears unsustainable, and contains no clear idea as to where the R40bn it requires will come from.

We continue to advocate for a funding model that cushions poor students against short and long-term financial burdens. No student should be denied access to quality higher education because they cannot afford to pay.

Statement issued by Yusuf Cassim MP, DA Youth Federal Chairperson, 15 November 2017