What’s happened since #FeesMustFall? It’s been two years, and there’s been a lot of back-and-forth between students, institutions and the government. The long-anticipated 752-page report on free higher education and training was leaked to the City Press at the end of October. Yesterday, President Jacob Zuma released it officially.
The commission of inquiry found that “Universal free tertiary education will not be feasible in the foreseeable future and different funding models should be adopted to ensure access for all deserving students”.
What does this mean?
According to the City Press, the report suggests a “multipronged and multilayered approach which will take into account South Africa’s struggling economy and competing demands on the fiscus.” – In other words, the process will be long and elaborate. There’s no single, direct strategy or concession being given.
The report looked at “20 different scenarios of funding compiled by evidence leaders.” For details on the recommendations, the multilayered funding strategies (like the “cost-sharing model” and the “income-contingent loan system”) as well as how they are meant to be implemented, read the full analysis here.
Who headed up the inquiry?
Former judge, Jonathan Heher, is the head of the Fees Commission of Inquiry. He was assisted by advocate Gregory Ally and Leah Khumalo. While Heher publicly encouraged students to participate constructively and trust the commission, he also made this statement around a year ago according to EWN: “Thus far, we have found constructive assistance lacking because of the obvious desire to try and obtain an immediate fix.”
When did the inquiry start?
The commission of inquiry started after the first wave of #FeesMustFall protest action. The fees commission was formally established by the president in January 2016.
Why has it taken so long?
President Jacob Zuma has refused to allow its official release before yesterday: “Since receiving the report from Judge Heher on August 30, President Jacob Zuma has resisted calls to release it, with the presidency saying he is still studying its contents”.
What has the fall-out been?
More protests, frustration and unrest transpired on campuses. Since the report took so long to become public knowledge, students, management and the DHE became more frustrated:
“Students at several institutions began protesting against fee-increase proposals tabled by their universities and demanding the release of the report… In Cape Town, they clashed with police following a march on Parliament during Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s medium-term budget speech.” (- City Press)
Some key points from the official report:
According to a summary by the Daily Vox, Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges will be benefited most by the report as it recommends putting R50-billion into this sector. The report also recommends scrapping application and registration fees for higher education and training institutions.