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'There's no money for zero fee increases in 2017'

Treasury representatives have been speaking at hearings into the feasibility of free higher education.

FILE: Students in Pretoria take part in a Fees Must Fall march in October 2015. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - National Treasury says it hasn't budgeted for another zero percent fee increase in the higher education sector next year.

Last year student protests at a number of institutions across the country saw government take a decision not to increase fees.

Now Treasury says it hasn't made any plans for the decision to be rolled over to 2017.

Treasury says it had planned for fee increases to resume next year and will now continue with involvement in fee discussions.

Treasury Deputy Director General Michael Sachs says, "We've budgeted on the basis that we will return to the situation of normal fee increases.



"But of course we're prepared to respond to changes if they're there."

Sachs says continuing with no fee increases will mean sourcing money from other aspects of the Budget.

With Treasury saying it's not willing to take out loans to spend more on higher education, it says the only other alternative is to increase taxes.



Lobby group Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) says it believes students should only pay university fees based on what they can afford.

The group made its presentation to the commission of inquiry into free higher education this afternoon.

Like other student groups, it's also calling fees to remain flat despite National Treasury saying it hasn't budgeted for this next year.

Representatives from SLSJ say they don't agrees with calls for higher education to be free for everyone.

Nikhiel Deeplal says the rich who can afford to pay must do so to ease the burden of government having to subsidies universities.

"The rich must be able to subsidise the poor, therefore remove the billions that are being pumped into State institutions and we give it to individual students."

The group believes its proposed method will work better than the current system which sees National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding given to poor students, while those who don't qualify are disadvantaged.

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