Demands for free education unrealistic – AfriForum Youth

Organisation says idea that rich students should subsidise less fortunate are outrageous

Demands for free education unrealistic – AfriForum Youth

13 July 2016

AfriForum Youth is of the opinion that free tertiary education in South Africa is simply unattainable. 

Universities received almost R28 billion in subsidies from Government in 2014/2015 - all taxpayers’ money. 

“Requests from groups such as Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) that rich students should subsidise less fortunate students’ studies are outrageous,” says Jaco Grobbelaar, AfriForum Youth’s Coordinator.

According to Grobbelaar, it is unrealistic to expect taxpayers to contribute more to other people’s university fees.

AfriForum Youth is of the opinion that Government should evaluate itself and rather focus on the proper management of resources that can be used for student support and studies. 

One example is the application of funds from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This fund amounted to about R14 billion in 2015/2016. “The Minister even acknowledged that the fund would have been R20 billion stronger if beneficiaries repaid their study loans.”

Grobbelaar says that there are frequently media reports about misappropriation of and corruption in the NSFAS. “Government has an obligation to urgently remedy this situation.” 

He also says that a further R459 million would have been available as study assistance to poor students if students did not cause so much damage on campuses during their protest marches.

Grobbelaar refers to the remarks of Dr Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, that free education was indeed possible. “These thoughtless remarks created the misperception under students that education can be free, and resulted in institutions being in the line of fire to meet these demands.”

Grobbelaar says institutions should ready themselves for further problems in light of the predictions that class fees may rise next year with up to 8%. 

He says it is unacceptable to expect especially Afrikaans students to subsidise other students while universities are already undermining their right to mother-tongue education.

Issued by Jaco Grobbelaar, Coordinator, AfriForum Youth, 13 July 2016