SA: Poor, ‘missing middle’ fee waiver welcomed

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande
Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande


Pretoria – Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, Connie September, has welcomed the waiver on fee increases for poor students and the category of students described as “missing middle”.

Making the announcement on the 2017 university fee adjustments on Monday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said universities will individually decide on the fee increases for the 2017 academic year.

He also announced that all National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students, as well as the so-called “missing middle” students will experience a no fee increase in 2017, as government will pay for the adjustment.

“Of particular interest to the committee is how the missing middle has been accommodated in the fee structure. Now more students are exempted from fee increases. We share the sentiment that students who can afford to pay should do so, because government cannot subsidise everyone,” September said in a statement.

September noted that the Presidential Fees Commission is still in progress and encouraged students to make submissions.

“Recommendations from that process will have a long-lasting impact on the funding models for the sector. We require stabilisation in higher education and training,” said September.

She also commended Minister Nzimande’s position that assists everyone, including students attending Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, adding that students can now focus on their studies and on building decent futures for themselves.

September emphasised the importance for universities to be considerate when deciding fee increments for 2017 and that commitment be demonstrated towards poor students, so that they do not face uncertainty and hardship.

She called on university management, students and other stakeholders to continue with engagements.

Minister Nzimande noted that although fee increments for 2017 would be decided by individual universities, it was preferable that increases be capped below 8%.