South Africa’s Higher Education Department will cover the greater part of the shortfall in university funding for next year, official said.
Higher Education media liaison officer Khaye Nkwanyana confirmed the development, adding that the details would be announced by the office of the President in due course.
President Jacob Zuma last month waived a nationwide university fees increase following protests by students.
Tertiary institutions were faced with a shortfall of more than $140 million after it was announced there would be no tuition fee increases in 2016.
Government will now cover $130 million, while it is up to universities to come up with the remaining money.
The cost of university education in South Africa amounts to close to $3.5 billion annually.
South Africa subscribes to a funding framework in which costs are shared among the beneficiaries – the government and students.
The University of Cape Town’s vice-chancellor, Mr Max Price, welcomed the government’s move to cover more than 80 per cent of the shortfall.
He said the government had kept its end of an agreement reached several weeks back.
“In our meeting with the president, we said to him we’re willing to go for zero per cent, but only if the government can come up with the money and at that meeting they said they would. And they did say the universities will have to find some of it that they couldn’t do at all, and we said that we understand that,” he said.
Protests over proposed fee increases began at Wits University on October 14 and rapidly spread to campuses across the country.
A report by professional services firm, PriceWaterhouseCooper, shows that state contributions to university education declined from 49 per cent at the beginning of the century to 40 per cent by 2012.
The report further says the burden on students increased from 24 per cent to 31 per cent during the same period.
“It is therefore not surprising that each calendar year starts off with student protests demanding free education or lower tuition fees or a cap on tuition fees,” reads part of the 2014 report.
From 2010 to 2012 tuition fees at the 23 public universities in South Africa increased from $850 million to just over $1 billion, while enrolments only increased by 7 per cent during the period.
SOURCE: AFRICA REVIEW