'New funding policy victory for Fees Must Fall activists'

Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela and Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday briefed the media on increases in student funding to support close to half a million students.

Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor, Deputy Minister Buti Manamela and Nsafs chairperson Sizwe Nxasana briefing media in Cape Town on the progress made in implementing free higher education. Picture: @SAgovnews/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - Higher Education Deputy Minister Buti Manamela says government's new free higher education funding policy is a victory for the Fees Must Fall student activists.

Manamela and Minister Naledi Pandor on Tuesday briefed the media on increases in student funding to support close to half a million students in the current financial year.

The Fees Must Fall movement began in 2015 in response to an increase in fees at South African universities.

Almost three years after the protests, Minister Pandor announced an additional R7 billion in grant funding for the 2018 academic year.

Manamela says they have learnt many lessons in the first year of implementing the new funding policy which has been hit by a few teething problems.

He says as a former student leader himself, the call for free higher education has been long overdue.

“Not only it is a victory for students but also for South Africa that we have this scheme announced and I hope that students will take advantage of this policy.”

The funding for first-time students is expected to support about 40% of the 208,000 new entrants at university in 2018.

The final number of students funded will only be known later in the year.