University representatives will meet with the Department of Higher Education on Monday as registration processes begin over the next few days, Universities South Africa (USAf) said on Sunday.
"[The meeting] is about updating each other how the situation is going and the start of the registration process," USAf CEO Professor Ahmed Bawa told News24.
The ideal outcome of the meeting would be to come "to some sort of understanding of what needs to be done", as well as to avoid "chaos at the beginning of the academic year".
There was a need to establish what role universities should play to ensure this, as well as what the Department of Higher Education would need to do.
The meeting – scheduled to last nearly the whole day – would take place at USAf offices.
Registration begins rolling out at certain universities on Monday.
Last month, Zuma announced that free higher education would be made available to students from households that have a combined annual income of R350 000 or less.
His announcement followed a report into university funding in August. The report was compiled by the Heher Commission of Inquiry after widespread protests at universities over fees, and it found that universal free education was not feasible.
Earlier this week, Bawa issued a statement declaring that "South Africa's 26 public universities were taken by surprise by the announcement" and lamenting that there has not been a clear implementation strategy put forward.
Good morning! Pls note that no walk-in applications will be allowed at public universities in SA. See attached statement from Universities South Africa for details. pic.twitter.com/HznRSzEHYk— Wits University (@WitsUniversity) January 2, 2018
Subsequently, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema has called for matriculants who passed in previous years and couldn't afford university fees to report to academic institutions – despite universities opting for online registration processes.
Furthermore, also this week, the EFF Student Command said that while it did not plan to cause anarchy by demanding walk-in registrations at universities, if it needed to do so, it would.