Our economy isn’t growing either. Finance minister Nhlanhla Nene revised South Africa’s expected economic growth rate for this year down to 1.5%. The National Development Plan (NDP) wants to see this number at 6%. We are far off and to now put even more pressure on government to fund higher education is truly problematic. Government funding for UP (2013 figures from annual financial review) amounts to around 36% of the university’s income, while tuition fees make up only 26%. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but without tuition fees UP would come up short by around R1.2 billion. This is not small change. I don’t think people often realise the costs of running a quality institution such as Tuks.

The government should be investigating possible avenues of redirecting funds, but has instead decided to look into the autonomy of tertiary institutions. Government’s track record on state owned entities isn’t something to get excited about (SABC, SAA, Eskom etc.) and the last place they need to meddle is universities. There is no room for compromise when it comes to the quality of higher education. Instead, government should direct its energy to basic education in order to lay a solid foundation for university students. Students must put pressure on government to ensure this takes place.

Another point to think about is space. The limiting factor for most South Africans when it comes to higher education is financial. If this limitation is removed, universities will be swamped with applications (they already are). Universities have limited space and it will be impossible to accommodate the amount of students applying for free tertiary education. How do you decide who gets to study now? How will universities maintain their level of quality education with limited financial resources?
But I do not want to sound like a cynic. I would like to help find a solution. I’d love to hear your views in the matter. Please send us a mail.
I leave you with three thoughts:
A degree is not the be all and end all. Entrepreneurship is the answer to many of South Africa’s problems.
The 2019 national elections are still far away. We cannot wait for government to address our demands. We need to come up with solutions.
The youth has shown South Africa that it has a voice and can unite, and this scared the ruling party. The youth need to hold our government accountable because they are sitting with your future in their hands. But whatever issues the youth decide to address needs to be approached in a solution-based manner.
I was proud of the Tuks students at the Union Buildings on Friday. They made their voice heard in a peaceful manner. I am also so proud of my team who brought you minute-by-minute coverage of the protest throughout the week. They worked so hard and provided an objective reflection of the events. Not even teargas, stun grenades or rubber bullets deterred them (our Features editor got shot with a rubber bullet and our News editor took a tear gas canister to the face). I truly think all our readers can be proud to have these guys as your campus journalists. Go check out www.perdeby.co.za if you missed any of the action.
Carel

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