Pretoria – Government has contributed over R4 billion towards covering university fee increases, says Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande.
Minister Nzimande said government contributed the amount towards the zero percent fee increase for the 2016 academic year as a result of “FeesMustFall” protests, as well as the fee increases of up to a cap of 8% for students from families with an income of up to R600 000.
An amount of R1.935 billion was allocated and paid to universities towards the 2016 zero percent fee increase, while R2.460 billion was contributed to cover fee increases up to a cap of 8% for students from families with an income of up to R600 000 for the 2017 academic year.
“This was not a zero percent increase. These funds are not in the department’s budget baseline but they have been reprioritised from the National Skills Fund (NSF),” Minister Nzimande said in a statement.
The Minister said upfront payments to universities amounting to R1.045 billion will be transferred in three equal payments before 31 March 2017.
“This amount is equal to 50% of the upfront payments that universities received in January 2016 for the zero percent fee increase allocation. The balance of the allocation will be paid to universities once the process of identifying missing middle students has been finalised with universities.
“The transfer of the balance of the funding will only be done upon the receipt of the database of the poor and missing middle cohort, as agreed with the universities,” the Minister said.
He said all amounts indicated for each university for damages caused by protesting students and the zero percent fee increase for 2016 have been transferred.
“For the fee increases for students from a family with an income of up to R600 000 for the 2017 academic year, R352.652 million was released at the end of January 2017, and the other two equal tranches will be released at the end of February and March 2017.
“The balance of the allocation will be paid to universities once the process to identify missing middle students has been finalised as per the process map and the quantum of funding per university is officially communicated to the department.”