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Zuma: Proposed higher education bill won’t affect academic freedom

Zuma has assured MPs planned changes to laws governing tertiary education won’t affect academic freedom.

He has assured Members of Parliament that planned changes to the law governing tertiary education institutions won’t affect academic freedom.

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says the proposed Higher Education Amendment Bill will not interfere with academic freedom.

Zuma was in the National Assembly for his final question and answer session of the year earlier today.

The president says a commission will be set up to look at higher education funding, transformation, students' living conditions and other matters.

He has assured Members of Parliament that planned changes to the law governing tertiary education institutions won't affect academic freedom.

"The new bill will not interfere with academic freedom. I think it talks about balancing the autonomy and the public accountability, whilst at the same time dealing with the issue of transformation; the universities' roles - it does not at all interfere."

The bill has sparked fears that it could give the Higher Education Minister sweeping powers to intervene in universities' affairs.

Zuma says the bill is aimed at making universities more accountable for the funds they receive from the state.

THE DAY FEES 'FELL' : _Running battles broke out between protesters and police in and around Union Buildings following a mass march against university fee hikes. _