President Jacob Zuma has announced far-reaching policy changes which include free higher education for students from poor and working class homes.
In a statement, the Presidency says this will affect 90% of South African households.
It says the programme will start next year and will be phased in over the next five years.
Eligible students will be funded through grants, which will include tuition, study materials, meals, accommodation and transport.
According to the statement government will now introduce fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South African undergraduate students, starting in 2018 with students in their first year of study at public universities.
Its definition of poor and working class students will now refer to ‘currently enrolled TVET Colleges or University students from South African households with a combined annual income of up to R350 000’ by 2018 academic year.
This will be facilitated by an increase in subsidies to universities from just 0.68% to 1% of GDP as recommended by the Heher Commission into Higher Education.