A call has been made for President Jacob Zuma to urgently release the final report of the Fees Commission, which investigated the possibility of free tertiary education. According to News24, the Higher Education Transformation Network made the call on Tuesday, shortly after the Cabinet reshuffle that saw former higher education minister Blade Nzimande lose his job.
The commission was established following widespread protests against university fee increases across several campuses in 2015. According to Eyewitness News (EWN), Zuma received the final report on August 31 this year. The chairperson of the commission, Judge Jonathan Hefer, presented the report to Zuma. Zuma undertook to study the report.
But the Higher Education Transformation Network says its critical that the report is released as talks about fee increases for 2018 are around the corner.
According to News24, the network's chairperson, Reginald Legoabe, said government's policy stance regarding fee increases for 2018 needed to be clarified urgently.
"This is also to avoid possible disruptions within the sector, as some universities have already started the process of announcing fee increments for 2018.
The network reportedly called on universities to stop announcing unilateral fee increase in the absence of a clear policy from government.
According to Daily Maverick, Stellenbosch University announced a baseline increase in fees of 8% on October 11. The university reportedly said the impact of this would be mitigated through financial aid to students and bursaries. Central University of Technology and North West University also announced unilateral fee increases.
Legoabe reportedly said he hoped that Nzimande's replacement, Hlengiwe Mkhize, would not change the "immense policy milestones" achieved by Nzimande and his team.