Fears of fresh student protests after fees report leak

President Jacob Zuma commissioned the report in early 2016 following widespread demonstrations.

FILE: Police face off against protesting students on the south lawn of the Union Buildings in Pretoria during the Fees Must Fall march on 23 October 2015. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - It's feared that the leaked report of the commission into free tertiary education could reignite student protests.

President Jacob Zuma commissioned the report in early 2016 following widespread demonstrations.

Last week, University of Cape Town (UCT) and Cape Peninsula University of Technology students marched on Parliament, demanding that Zuma release the report.

WATCH: Protesting UCT students disrupt exam

A Sunday newspaper reported on the report’s recommendations, which include an overhaul of the university funding system.

More critically, the commission doesn't believe that free higher education is feasible, as the country can't afford it.

Activist Lukhanyo Vanqa says: “We understand the leaking of that report can only have emanated from the president. The reason for that leak is to create a soft landing.”

UCT SRC president Seipati Tshabala says that government failed the students.

“The main thing they’re trying to do is address TVET from what I’ve seen in the leak. It seems they’re going to invest more money into that and somehow free education at a TVET level.”

At the same time, lobby group Free Education has branded the appointment of a fees commission as useless.

Free Education's Tshepo Motsepe says that some of the recommendations in the Heher report are not feasible.

This includes the suggestion that the repayment system should happen through Sars. As soon as the loan is granted, a student should be registered as a taxpayer and be held accountable.

“We know a big majority of our people are employed by government. They will have government employees paying back money when the majority doesn’t earn a lot.”

He has called on the banks to play a role in assisting government to find a feasible way to fund education.

Motsepe says they will be studying the report once it is released.

If they are unhappy with some of its contents. they will be seeking legal advice.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)