Concerns raised over administration of free higher education

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An organisation representing Vice-Chancellors -Universities South Africa- has expressed concern that President Jacob Zuma’s free higher education announcement might cause chaos at universities at the beginning of next year.

The vice-chancellor group’s CEO Ahmed Bawa says they were taken aback that such a huge announcement could be made without consultation and with less than a month before the new start of the new academic year.

Zuma announced on Saturday that higher education will be fully funded for students from poor and working class families from next year.

Bawa says universities needed at least a year to prepare for the implementation of this.

He says there will be students who haven’t applied to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) because their family earnings were above the R122 000 threshold, now they will come to campus and say they want financial aid.

“NSFAS is saying their application process is closed already. Now we’ll have to try and see how to manage those particular students at the beginning of next year.,” says Bawa.

“All these things take time and first year students will have the benefit of the new system but second and third years won’t. You know it’s very likely that there will be many second year and third year students who feel that they should have access to that dispensation,” he adds.