The Department of Higher Education and Training will use part of the increased funding for the sector announced in the budget to settle debt owed to universities by continuing students, deputy director-general for university education Diane Parker said on Wednesday. Former finance minister Malusi Gigaba announced last week that an extra R57bn had been added to the baseline for higher education over the next three years, in addition to the R10bn extra provided in the October adjustment budget. The lion’s share of the new funding is destined for the provision of free higher education for first-time entrants from poor and working-class families, but some of the money will be used to alleviate the financial pressure facing universities from student debt, said Parker. Many continuing students who qualified for support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme had run up debt because their families failed to make the expected contribution to their studies or because the cost of their...

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