University fee talks continue‚ says Nzimande

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says talks about university fee adjustments for 2017 will continue for another two weeks.

Nzimande has been in ongoing consultations with university vice-chancellors and council chairs‚ student leaders and youth organisations‚ organised labour‚ faith communities and government officials against a backdrop of student protests on campuses around the country against tariff increases.

"We want to ensure that academically capable young people are not denied access to higher education because they come from historically disadvantaged backgrounds‚ while at the same time ensuring that universities are sustained and strengthened‚" he said on Wednesday.

While seeking solutions to fund poorer students‚ he said government was also committed to provide better support for middle class students.

"The government recognises the burden that working and middle class families bear in supporting their children through basic education and into higher education‚ and the need to find workable solutions for these groups that are not currently supported through NSFAS.

"And while we look for these solutions‚ we need to ensure that the principle of social justice is supported and the affluent in our society assist to support those who cannot pay‚" he said.

He said there was broad agreement that the challenges faced were a societal problem‚ and the responsibility "cannot be shouldered by the government alone. It is a collective responsibility that includes all sectors of society.

"Consultations will therefore continue for another two weeks after which a formal announcement will be made regarding our recommendations on the issue of university fees for 2017. I appeal to students‚ parents‚ community leaders‚ business leaders and all members of society to work with government in this regard‚" he said.