Chronic state underfunding makes university fees unaffordable: UCT

Chronic underfunding by government has resulted in the need for universities to charge higher university tuition fees‚ making it unaffordable to most South Africans.

The University of Cape Town’s vice chancellor Max Price made this submission before the Fees Commission in Cape Town on Tuesday.

The university called for government subsidisation for higher education to be increased significantly to bring it closer to countries which spend 1% of their GDP on higher education.

After his presentation‚ students stopped him and demanded that he bring back those who were suspended from UCT for their involvement in the #FeesMustFall protests.

For over 40 minutes‚ Max was engaged in confrontation with the students who swore at him and called him a “white settler”.

Price said although fees could be set to zero for the very poor and lower income group‚ and set high for the wealthy‚ the difficulty of administering this multiple fee level system for different levels of income was too complex.

“The same goal can be achieved far more simply and efficiently by offering grants to the very poor‚ which covers their total fees and thus effectively creates fee-free education; part grants but mostly loans to the missing middle; and charging higher fees to the wealthy‚” Price said in his submission.

The commission‚ headed by Judge Jonathan Heher‚ will inquire into and make recommendations on the feasibility of a fee-free higher education and training in South Africa.

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