Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
12 Nov 2017
11:45 am

How Zuma plans to raise money for free higher education

Citizen Reporter

The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences' budget cut could see many other doctoral students losing their scholarships.

President Jacob Zuma addressing the media at the Kgosi Mampuru Correctional Services Prison during the 40th anniversary of the death of anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko, 12 September 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

President Jacob Zuma has reportedly targeted a national institute that has been entrusted with producing more black professors in his plans to raise funds for free higher education in 2018.

This is part of a wide-scale redirection of state funds from across departments to find R40bn for student funding for one year.

A letter addressed to the chief executive of the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS), seen by City Press, shows that the institute which coordinates scholarships, research and ethical practice in the social sciences field, has had its budget cut by R35.6m.

Though this could help fund free higher education, it means many other doctoral students who rely on the institute will lose their scholarships.

The mover has criticised as this means government’s agenda to have more black professors will backtrack.

At the moment, more than 80% of professors are white.

NIHSS head Sarah Mosoetsa confirmed to the publication that its budget was cut from R173m to R137m and that its funding would continue to decline in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

“R35m is not significant.

“But R35m for an entity that is running on a budget of less than R200m is significant. It is significant [because of] what the institute has been able to produce.

“It is a pity that again in South Africa we are making choices about how the humanities do not matter,” she was quoted as saying.

The institute’s research funding has been cut by more than 80%.

While Mosoetsa supported free education, she said it should not happen at others’ expense.

The president’s plan for free higher education has reportedly left senior government officials in panic, with senior National Treasury official Michael Sachs reportedly threatening to resign should the proposal proceed, the Sunday Times has reported.

The proposal was reportedly drawn up by Morris Masutha, an ex-boyfriend of Zuma and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s daughter.

It calls for government to announce free higher education, in line with resolutions taken at the ANC’s Polokwane and Mangaung conferences, through “fully subsidised free university education for all 2017 new university entrants coming from families with a combined annual household income of up to R350 000”.

The interministerial committee, headed by Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe, reportedly rejected the proposal, saying it presented a risk to the economy and threatened to plunge the higher education sector into a further crisis.

However, the president’s spokesperson said told the publication that relevant ministers would advise Zuma on the way forward.

The president is yet to release the Heher commission’s report on higher education fees.

Also read:

Government cannot afford free tertiary education for all, Heher commission finds – report

For more news your way, follow The Citizen on Facebook and Twitter.