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‘Effectively a 0% increase in fees’: What Nzimande’s announcement means

For the first time, students from so-called “missing middle” families, whose annual household income is up to R600 000 a year, will not be subjected to a fee increase at university next year.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced today that all students who qualified for financial aid from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) as well as those whose annual household income was up to R600 000 would be exempted from a fee increase next year.

“Government will pay for the fee adjustment,” he said.

He said students will be informed on how to apply for the gap funding grant before the end of the year.

“There are many students from upper middle class and well-off families as well as students on full company bursaries who can afford to pay the adjusted 2017 fees and we expect them to do so,” he said.

Nzimande said universities should not increase fees by more than 8%.

Universities South Africa (USAf), a body representing the country’s 26 universities, has welcomed Nzimande’s announcement.

“Extended state subsidies to the universities ensure that for the students who are at highest financial risk, there is effectively a 0% increase in the tuition fees for 2017. We applaud this step,” said Professor Ahmed Bawa, the chief executive of USAf.

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