NMMU supports the calls for free education for poor and academically deserving students. The Minister of Higher Education and Training is expected to make a pronouncement in the next week in respect of tuition fee increases for 2017. The University will work with students and staff to co-create an implementation plan for next year once there is further clarity in this regard.
The University is scheduled to present its submission to the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training at its sitting in East London on 1 and 2 September. Some of our key recommendations to the Commission include: assisting the “missing middle” who consist of students who are not poor enough to qualify for NSFAS, but who cannot finance their own tuition; improving the recovery of NSFAS loans to ensure that the funds grow adequately to fund academically deserving, financially needy students; and significantly enhancing efficiencies in the higher education system by improving student success and throughput rates.
It must be noted that the Commission is expected to submit its report to the President by March 2017 and the outcome of its findings will only take effect from 2018 onwards.
The call for a no-fee increase, and more recently free higher education, is an issue of national significance which all institutions of higher learning, government and the private sector are currently grappling with. Universities South Africa (USAf) has been continually engaging with the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, on this and other matters affecting the sector.
In November 2015, the NMMU Council took a decision, to both reintegrate previously outsourced services and introduce debt relief and down-payment interventions for financially needy and academically deserving students. It is hoped that the national pronouncement will include concessions to accommodate the plight of the “missing middle”. NMMU is participating in a national process to define the criteria for identifying and assisting the “missing middle”.
The University wishes to reaffirm its commitment to widening access to higher education, while recognising that the progressive financial assistance measures it has implemented in this regard will not be sustainable into perpetuity without the intervention of national government and other sectors of society.
Following engagement with students on the issues highlighted above, we expect that normalcy will resume tomorrow for all University operations and we are encouraging everyone to assist Management in ensuring that this is possible.
DR S MUTHWA
Tel: +27 (0) 41 504 1111
Fax: +27 (0) 41 504 2574 / 2731
PO Box 77000, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
Port Elizabeth, 6031, South Africa
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