Johannesburg – The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) on Tuesday rejected the new university fee structure announced by the Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande which would see institutions deciding individually on next year’s fee increments capped at eight percent.
ANCYL secretary-general, Njabulo Nzuza, said they noted the argument by Nzimande that the matter of university fees was the domain of university councils as asserted by law under the principle of institutional autonomy.
“The ANC Youth League firstly rejects the entire argument that a fee increment to the margin of eight percent must be contemplated,” Nzuza said.
“We therefore re-retaliate our position on moratorium on all university fees pending the outcomes of the Presidential Commission on Free Education.”Last year, a number of university campuses were shut down after the #FeesMustFall campaign gained momentum and even saw students storm Parliament and the Union Buildings.
This led President Jacob Zuma to announce a zero percent fee hike for the 2016 academic year after meeting with vice-chancellors, chairpersons of university councils, and presidents of student representative councils.
In January, Zuma also appointed a Presidential Commission on Free Education chaired by retired judge, Justice Jonathan Arthur Heher to probe the feasibility of free tertiary education.
The Commission was given eight months to complete its work and submit its final report to the Zuma within two months after the date on which it completed its work. During this period, a moratorium was imposed on any university fee increases.
“This moratorium must force the Presidential Commission to move with speed and draw already existing conclusions on the matter as detailed in the Balintulo Commission Report on NSFAS Review and the Swartz Commission Report on Fee-Free University Education,” Nzuza said.
“Secondly, we reject the exaltation of the principle of Institutional Autonomy as an explanation of the failure by the Ministry to prevent fee increments,” Nzuza said.
Nzuza said they had been calling for the department to review higher education legislation concerning governance statutes.
Nzuza said they believed that the higher education department’s intervention was missing the point because increases in the rate of inflation tend to outpace increases in average household income.
“In the long-term the sociology of the ‘missing middle’ is a ‘moving target’ that depends on the rate of general price inflation against the rate of increase in household income,” Nzuza said.
“Corporate Education Tax and a Wealth Tax on higher income brackets will lead to a model in which the rich naturally fund the entire system.
“This will enable us to have sustainable free education, to be funded by wealthy sections of society, as opposed to this futile attempt at stratifying students in an unsustainable manner.
Nzuza said they strongly condemned all those who engaged in criminal activities of destroying property during the fees protests, saying they should face the wrath of the law.