Universities South Africa (USAf), representing higher education institutions in the country, says while it welcomes recommendations contained in the report by a commission tasked by President Jacob Zuma to probe the feasibility of free higher education, it wanted more detail on funding models.

Speaking to eNCA from New York on Monday, USAf chief executive Ahmed Bawa said the recommendations in the report is big step forward for him.

“The big question is we will have to look closely at the detail, so we have a thorough understanding of not leaving students with high debts,” Bawa said.

The association said they are disappointed as “the report hasn’t actually been dealt with by the inter-ministerial commission [on higher education] or Treasury”. 

The report by the Heher Commission into the Feasibility of Fee-Free Higher Education and Training in South Africa has been in Zuma’s possession since end August.

“On the one hand, we really like to support the recommendation that some very serious investment in the TVET sector because we are acutely aware of the fact that the future sustainability of the system depends on having a properly functioning TVET sector. It’s really important for the economy as well. We think it’s a fundamental suggestion,” USAf said.

The association further said they welcomed the fact that the report acknowledged the way in which the university system is underfunded.

“It recognised the fact that the university system is quite grossly underfunded so we applaud also the suggestion that the subsidy funding to universities should be taken up to one percent of GDP. (at moment 0.6 and 0.7 percent GDP.),” said USAf.  

Bawa said this will allow for a more sustainable system.

African News Agency