Free higher education yet to be implemented

Photo: file

Most of the students who were hoping to be the first to take up the free education government offer will be disappointed, says theTshwane University of Technology (TUT).

ALSO READ: Looking for tertiary education finance? This is what you need to know

Spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said free education would take up to five years to fully implement in collaboration with the relevant government and funding institutions, including the national student financial aid scheme (NSFAS).

To benefit from free education, loans to current NSFAS beneficiaries would be converted to bursaries.

“[For now] Free education will only apply to new, first-time students in 2018,” said De Ruyter.

NSFAS CEO Steven Zwane said the increase to the scheme’s threshold for qualifying for financial assistance to R350 000 aggregated household annual income from R122 000 reaffirmed the government’s commitment to opening up access to education to poor and working-class youth.

Students who did not apply for scheme funding because they fell outside the previous household income threshold would be able to apply.

Zwane said new first-time students admitted to college or university but had not applied for funding would be funded upon “supplying NSFAS the mandatory documentation such as copies of parents’, guardian’s or spouse’s ID, and proof of income,” Zwane added.

ALSO READ: Looking for tertiary education finance? This is what you need to know

John Molepo, a PhD student at TUT and activist, said free education would enable disadvantaged students to obtain an education without burdening their families with debt and lead to a reduction in poverty.

“The burden is relieved so they must focus [on their studies] and not disappoint.”

#FeesMustFall activist and former TUT student leader Sthembiso Shandu said it was refreshing that the students’ call for free education had finally been taken seriously.

He said called on the beneficiaries to focus on doing well.

“They must take themselves seriously and go back into the community to help others with the education they received,” Shandu said adding that the battle was only half won.

“There will be a struggle with the implementation.”

ALSO READ: South Africa’s education crisis at a glance

Do you have more information about the story? Please send us an email to [email protected] or phone us on 083 625 4114.

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  AUTHOR
Keitumetse Maako

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