The so-called Education Alliance, constituted by Dr Blade Nzimande, minister of higher education, this week confirmed their incompetence by suggesting that all registration and application fees should be scrapped at all universities. AfriForum Youth regrets this and believes the proposal will put universities in a weaker financial position.
‘Universities have made it clear that they are already in a financial predicament. Every year there are protests around the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which is insufficient to meet the financial expectations of universities and students. To put even more financial pressure on universities will only cause universities as a whole to become unaffordable,’ said Henk Maree, National Chairman of AfriForum Youth.
AfriForum Youth is not convinced that the Department of Higher Education do realise the implications of the abolition of registration and application fees. The department must shift their focus and make sure the NSFAS funds are applied more effectively and also reach universities on time.
Maree said the department should also consider transferring the R2 billion that was not used by the Setas for training last year to the NSFAS. This will enable more needy students to study, he said.
However, not only the department is to be blamed; universities also have to search their own hearts. More external donors should be sought and universities’ alumni should be mobilised to contribute. Alumni of many universities currently feel alienated because of forced transformation at the institutions. Alumni are a source of income on which universities can concentrate more if issues such as the maintenance of healthy traditions and Afrikaans education are taken care of.
Earlier this week AfriForum Youth expressed their concern about the exclusivity of the Education Alliance which does not provide for participation by minorities. Nzimande was requested to make AfriForum Youth part of the discussions.
‘The Education Alliance now is a one-sided group of ANC supporters who want to exclude minorities from all processes,’ said Maree.