The DA Student Organisation will appear before the Higher Education Fees Commission to argue the feasibility of free higher education for poor students on a few conditions.

DA Youth Chairperson, Yusuf Cassim, said the organisation will argue that, with the right funding priorities, poor students can receive the support they need to thrive at university.

“Our position is that chronic underfunding of both students and universities has a detrimental impact on poor students in particular,” Cassim said. “By cutting corruption and reprioritising the existing budget, free higher education for the poor with support for the missing middle can be made a reality.

Cassim highlighted the following proposals to be made before the commission:

  • The poorest students need the most comprehensive financial support possible – no student should be denied an education because they are poor
  • The “missing middle” students [those considered to “rich” for assisted funding, but can’t afford fees] should also receive financial support, proportional to their financial standing, with those most in need receiving the most support
  • Better-off students should not receive financial support for fees, as they are able to pay for their studies themselves.

DASO added that, in order to make the above proposed measures a reality, university subsidies from government have to be increased to cover at least 50% of the costs incurred.

supports an 8% fees increase in order to keep universities afloat and to ensure more students gain access and that this money should come from President Jacob Zuma’s government and not poor students.

“Years of neglect by the ANC got us into this situation – it is time he take responsibility and do what is needed to fix it,” Cassim said. “With the MTBS looming in October, there is a golden opportunity for Jacob Zuma to walk the talk and make this a reality.”

[Source – DA]