Zuma releases Heher report on tertiary education fees

Government should hike expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1% of GDP and replace the current bursary scheme with government-backed guarantees for commercial loans for all tertiary students.

The University of Cape Town.

This is contained in the 748-page commission report‚ in which retired judge Jonathan Heher probed the feasibility of free tertiary education.

The report was released by President Jacob Zuma on Monday.

He said no decision had been taken on the recommendations as yet.

“The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education Funding led by the Minister in the Presidency Mr Jeff Radebe‚ and the Presidential Fiscal Committee whose lead Minister is the Minister of Finance‚ Mr Malusi Gigaba‚ are processing the report‚” the presidency said.

In the report‚ the Heher team state: “The Commission recommended that government increase its expenditure on higher education and training to at least 1% of the GDP…”

“The Commission recommends that all undergraduate and postgraduate students studying at both public and private universities and colleges‚ regardless of their family background‚ be funded through a cost-sharing model of government guaranteed Income-Contingency Loans sourced from commercial banks.

“Through this cost-sharing model‚ the Commission recommends that commercial banks issue government guaranteed loans to the students that are payable by the student upon graduation and attainment of a specific income threshold. Should the student fail to reach the required income threshold‚ government bares the secondary liability.

“In implementing this model‚ the Commission recommends that the existing NSFAS model be replaced by a new Income Contingency Loan System.

“Should government be opposed to this model‚ the Commission recommends that government consider the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme‚ an Income Contingency Loan Funding Model proposed by the Ministerial Task Team on Funding for Poor‚ Working Class and Missing Middle Students.

“…It is recommended that students with debt‚ who have since graduated‚ be offered income-contingent loans (ICL) as well.”

If necessary‚ the commission said‚ NSFAS should be retained for the provision of the funding of all TVET students and TVET student support if such retention is considered necessary.

The commission further recommend that government considers the introduction of a university fee capping mechanism. Some key points of the ICL model are:
• repayment only begins when the student reaches a certain threshold income;
• payments only continue until such a time as the loan is paid off;
• the repayment period could be set to a maximum period so as to ensure that payment does not affect retirement accumulation;
• those who emigrate could be required to pay off the loan before leaving.
The Heher Commission handed its report to Zuma at the end of August this year.

The Sunday Times previously reported that Zuma is expected to announce a free tertiary education plan apparently crafted by Morris Masutha‚ which was projected to cost R40-billion in the 2018 academic year. Masutha was reported to have been romatically involved with Thuthukile Zuma‚ the president’s youngest daughter from his marriage to Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

However‚ in his address to the National Council of Provinces last week‚ Zuma did not make any major pronouncements when dealing with the issue‚ only stating that he was still in consultation with an inter-ministerial committee and the Presidential Fiscal Committee to decide how to respond to the Heher Commission report.



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