Nzimande: Policy on free education is only for poor students

He says currently 16 percent of undergraduates are funded by NSFAS, lower than the 25 percent who qualify.

FILE: Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande. Picture: Christa van der Walt/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says government's policy on free tertiary education is only for the poor, because the State won't be able to fund everyone.

He was briefing Parliament's Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee earlier today on issues including the student uprising over tuition fees.

Nzimande began with a disclaimer before delving into the numbers.

"I'm not an economist, I'm a communist."

He says currently 16 percent of undergraduates are funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), lower that the 25 percent who qualify for government assistance.

Maintaining the current arrangement will cost an additional R3 billion.

On the issue of free education, Nzimande explains it's for the poor.

"Those who are calling for everyone [to be offered free education; we cannot afford that as a country. The students must pay."

During a parliamentary debate yesterday, Nzimande also said the rich should be taxed.

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