Higher education to get R17,6 bn boost over the next three years

Pravin Gordhan says part of the money will fund fee increases of up to eight percent at universities.

FILE: University students chanting for free, decolonised and quality education outside the Union Buildings on 20 October 2016. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has announced an extra R17,6 billion for higher education and training over the next three years.

Gordhan says part of the money will fund fee increases of up to eight percent at universities and colleges next year that students from households earning less than R600,000 a year will not have to pay.

Delivering his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament, Gordhan also says the student financial aid scheme, NSFAS, will also get a significant top up.

He was speaking as police fired stun grenades at student protesters who converged on the national legislature in support of demands that have seen violent protests erupt campuses around the country.

Gordhan says the government has heard the concerns of students and parents when it comes to the costs of higher education.

"At the heart of the issue is that access has expanded faster than resources. As a result, many students face financial hardships."

NSFAS will get R9,2billion this year - an 18 percent increase on its funding.

"The second-fastest growing expenditure is the expense on post-school education and that is a huge achievement for this government."

Gordhan's appealed for an end to the violence that's accompanied some protests.