NEWS
09/01/2018 16:26 SAST | Updated 09/01/2018 16:26 SAST

Here's What's Happening With Free Higher Education In SA

This is what we know for sure about how free education will be implemented in South Africa.

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When many had given up on the possibility of free quality education, late last year President Jacob Zuma announced that the government would be implementing it.

Many universities have started registration, but there still seems to be some confusion about what exactly is happening.

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether there will be fee-free education for students who are already enrolled at university.

In an interview with the SABC, minister of higher education Hlengiwe Mkhize explained that free education starts this year with deserving first-year students.

The Heher Commission appointed by Zuma following two consecutive years of protest by #FeesMustFall campaigners found that free education was not feasible. However, national treasury is now burdened with figuring out exactly how this new system will be funded.

Poor students who are academically capable will receive free education at public universities and TVETs (technical colleges) from 2018. Their education will be funded through government grants, rather than loans, and will cover tuition fees, study materials, meals, accommodation, and/or transport.

Students who have been allocated loans from NSFAS and who are currently enrolled at South African universities will have their loans converted into grants.

Finance minister Malusi Gigaba said he would be giving details of the funding model in 2018.

The president also announced the total scrapping of registration fees, a long-term bone of contention that fuels protests at the beginning of each year.

In a meeting with the Economic Freedom Fighters' student wing, EFF Student Command, on Monday afternoon, deputy minister of higher education Buti Manamela assured students that those who have qualified for NSFAS would be exempt from paying registration fees.

Walk-ins at institutions was one of the most important issue raised, after Universities South Africa (USAF) said they would not be allowing prospective students to apply for late registrations in person.

However, universities that have confirmed that they would be allowing walk-in late applications include the University of Limpopo, University of Venda, Nelson Mandela University and some Unisa campuses.

The Wits University EFFSC said it was still waiting to liaise with management about the matter later on this week.

Vaal university has slammed reports that they have agreed to allow the walk-ins. In an interview with SAFM, the university confirmed that they would not be allowing this method of late registration.