Fee shortfall POA 'robbing the poor to give to the poor'

Minister Blade Nzimande has come under fire for the way in which he plans to get hold of the money.

FILE: Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University students march on campus against fee hikes. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has come under fire over his plans to help universities meet the funding gap caused by the zero percent fees increase for next year.

The Higher Education Department has calculated the shortfall at R2.3 billion.

That money will only come through in April, and an immediate R475 million is needed to see universities through until then.

WATCH: _Students at Rhodes University continued with their protest action against increased tuition fees throughout the night along the perimeter of the campus. _

Nzimande says the funds will come from a grant earmarked for historically disadvantaged institutions, for which he came under opposition fire in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of Parliament (MP) Belinda Bozzoli accused the minister of robbing the poor to give to the poor.

She said, "This is a shocking precedent. What we have now is the president decreeing there will be no fees and the poor are paying for it. Why minister, have you not called for funds to be reassigned from frivolous and unnecessary expenditure?"

WATCH: Police removed #FeesMustFall protesters from UCT's Bremner Building during the early hours of Tuesday morning using flash bangs & tear gas.

Nzimande says historically disadvantaged institutions will get the money back.

"There is R2 billion over the next five years, to address issues of quality in historically disadvantaged institutions. For purposes of alleviating the first four months of next year, we are going to take from that money, but that money will be returned in the outer years, it's a five-year programme."

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma is considering appointing a commission of inquiry to investigate post-school education.

WATCH: Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters were kicked out of Parliament after they chanted 'Fees must fall' in solidarity with university protesters across the country.

Meanwhile, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged the private sector to step up to the plate as government searches for ways to increase funding for universities.

Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said a team effort is needed.

He's suggested getting the banks involved.

"I have even made the suggestion that government rolls our R9.5 billion for NSFAS and surely this amount money can be leveraged by financial institutions."