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Higher Education Bill scrutinised with fine-tooth comb

Parliament's education portfolio committee is busy with clause by clause deliberations on the draft law.

FILE. Fort Hare University students march through the campus, recruiting students as they toyi-toyi against a hike in fees and what they say is a corrupt administration. Picture: Thomas Holders/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Lawmakers are going through the Higher Education Amendment Bill with a fine-tooth comb.

Parliament's Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee is busy with clause by clause deliberations on the draft law, which has been criticised for extending Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande's powers to intervene in the affairs of universities.

A sticking point, which has put the Democratic Alliance (DA) against other political parties, is a proposal that allows the minister to step in based on what he deems 'reasonable ground'.

DA Member of Parliament (MP) Belinda Bozzoli says, "He could simply have very unspecified, unproven reasonable grounds - what he calls reasonable grounds - to intervene and we think that puts too much power in his hands."

The bill, tabled in Parliament late last year, sought to give the minister powers to set transformation goals and institute oversight mechanisms to ensure they're reached.

Once revised, it will be put to a vote in the portfolio committee before it's sent to the National Assembly for adoption.