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‘Government needs to look wider than fees’ – Zuma

President Jacob Zuma says government needs to look at the higher education sector at a broader scale.

PRETORIA – On Friday October 23, President Jacob Zuma has concluded a meeting with vice-chancellors, chairpersons of university councils, presidents of student representative councils and representatives of student organisations nationally.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss the stalemate with regards to university fee increases.

In a statement, President Zuma said, “I have received a briefing from student leaders on matters of concern to them which include fees and other challenges including transformation issues as well as matters relating to the living conditions of students at universities.

“I have also listened to the views of vice chancellors and chairpersons of university councils.”

During the meeting, it was agreed that government needs to lead a process that goes wider than fees, looking at the higher education sector.

“On the matter at hand, we agreed that there will be a zero increase of university fees in 2016. Discussions will continue looking at broader issues than the fees.”

The Vice-Chancellors agreed to extend the time for the examinations period to compensate for the time lost.

President Zuma conceded, “In the long term, there is a package of issues that was raised at the meeting that needs to be followed up.

“These include free education, institutional autonomy, racism and what the students call ‘black debt’.”

The president further explained, “The Presidential task team that had been established to address funding mechanisms will be broadened to look at all these and other broader transformation issues affecting higher education.”

He added, “Government understands the difficulty faced by students from poor households and urges all affected to allow the process to unfold to find long term solutions in order to ensure access to education by our students.”

President Jacob Zuma thanked all stakeholders for the constructive manner in which the meeting was conducted which augurs well for future engagements that will seek solutions that are in the best interests of the country.

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