Free State Premier Ace Magashule has committed himself to pay the outstanding debt of more than R4 million for returning students who are unable to register for the 2018 academic year at University of Free State. He was speaking during a Right to Learn walkabout at the university earlier on Wednesday.

Magashule has commended the university’s management for supporting the SRC during the registration process. He has also appealed to students to study hard to make the country proud.

Magashule has stressed that the government does not deny students an opportunity to learn. He says the government has phased in the free education programme to make sure that deserving students also enjoy free education. He also committed himself as premier to raise funds to erase debt of more than R4 million of the UFS returning students.

“First and foremost, we will make a contribution as individuals. We well go to business people, the private sector. We’ll make a call to Free-staters to contribute because I’m sure we can mobilise such resources because in the past years we’ve been able to mobilise. This one is even little. We’ve been able to mobilise lot of resources,” Magashule.

UFS Rector Professor Francis Petersen says as management they are working with relevant stakeholders on the implementation of free education policy.

” We have finalised the communication so that when the registration process started, that everybody is clear what that announcement means and how we’re going to implement it. But I think the underlying message that I’d like to comment out is that we will work together with the Department of Higher Education and Training, with NSFAS and also under umbrella of Universities South Africa to make sure that we implement the announcement effectively.”

University SRC president Asive Dlanjwa says more than 900 students will be able to register.

Dlanjwa has welcomed the premier’s commitment.

“We are more delighted by the commitment of the premier and with regards to the one of biggest issue we faced which was R4.8 million. So we are very delighted about the commitment that the premier has made. It will definitely aid in one of our objective as students representative to ensure access for all of our students.”

Provincial Sasco Secretary Ncamile Makeleni says they are partially happy.

“We are partially happy as the student’s organisation about the commitments that have been made by the premier in as far as addressing issues of historical debt, but we are still not happy about the issue of accommodation that is a crisis to our student. Of course, we anticipated that the premier will reflect to the issues of dilapidated buildings that are not used. Of course, as their part of the development plan,” said  Makeleni.

The outgoing premier of Free State is expected to visit other institutions of higher learning.