DASO has urged students to focus their attention on funding for poor students in a statement following Blade Nzimande’s announcement this morning.
“Democratic Alliance press statement by Yusuf Cassim MP, DASO Leader
DASO urges students to focus attention on funding for poor students
Date: 19 September 2016
We welcome the fact that the Minister of Higher Education has responded to the call from DASO to ensure that poor students and the missing middle are not forced to pay any fee increases in the short term.
We echo the call made by the DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Belinda Bozzoli MP, that the money to make this happen now needs to be made available and the plan set out clearly.
A 0% fee increase across the board would have meant that the rich and those that can afford would also be exempted from fee increases. We agree with the Minister that support must go towards the poor and missing middle and not those who can already pay.
We call on students to resist being misled to protesting on behalf of a 0% fee increase – effectively protesting for students who can afford to pay. Importantly, the right to protest does not grant students the right to deny others their right to education.
Students should instead consolidate around the call for free higher education for the poor with support for the missing middle – and importantly for the ANC national government to ensure that this additional funding is made available.
The announcement by the Minister only deals with immediate fee concerns and does not in any way deal with the central issue facing students, namely financial exclusion for furthering ones studies.
He refers those issues to the Fees commission which does nothing more than kick a ticking time bomb down the road. The Fees Commission has had its mandate postponed to July next year which is after the next Budget is tabled by the Minister of Finance and thus is clearly a dishonest attempt to deal with the immediate issues facing students.
Furthermore there are students who registered this year on the Minister’s instruction for registration exemption for unfunded students without any plans to make funding available for them. These students have accumulated debts and have been struggling without the basic support to succeed.
We therefore call for the following:
- The fees commission must report back in time for free higher education for the poor with support for the missing middle to be incorporated into the next budget as this is the central issue facing students.
- Funding must be made available to ensure unfunded students currently registered are funded to succeed academically.
We will be consulting with students and other students structures on how best to realise this without disrupting the academic programme. In no circumstances should university property be damaged and other students’ right to education be interfered with.”