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Commission of inquiry to look into feasibility of free higher education

The commission of inquiry will be chaired by retired SCA Judge Jonathan Heher.

FILE: Student protesters have been demanding free tertiary education since demonstrations flared up last year. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma has officially appointed a commission of inquiry to look into the feasibility of free higher education in South Africa.

Student protesters have been demanding free tertiary education since demonstrations flared on campuses across the country in the latter part of last year.

In response, Zuma announced there would be no university fee increases for 2016 and promised government would look into the broader issues affecting universities.

WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

The commission will be chaired by retired Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) Judge Jonathan Heher.

The presidency says he will be assisted by two commissioners, Advocate Gregory Ally and attorney, Leah Khumalo.

The commission will make recommendations on the feasibility of making higher education free in South Africa, by taking into consideration relevant legislation, the Constitution, the findings of various task teams, education policies and guidelines.

It will be expected to submit interim reports to the president whenever necessary.

The commission will have eight months to complete its work, and a further two months to submit a final report.

IS FREE HIGHER EDUCATION IN SA IS ATTAINABLE?

Opposition politicians have questioned whether they have the requisite expertise for the job.

Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Professor Belinda Bozzoli said, "There seems to be many legal people. It's unclear to me what their expertise is in higher education, which is a very complex area of funding."

Economic Freedom Fighters spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says appointing a commission is not the way to go.

"Education is not like the Marikana Massacre; it doesn't need judges and advocates. It needs a political commitment on the part of politicians and it's a policy question."

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