It is becoming increasingly apparent that the "free, quality higher education" now being touted by the ANC government is nothing of the kind. The R57bn required for it over the next three years is being paid mainly by the poor. For example, R7bn has been cut from the basic education budget; another R7bn from the housing budget. The scope and nature of additional cuts will only become apparent over time, but it is highly probable that provincial health budgets will also be slashed. The increase in VAT is also a tax mainly on the poor, in spite of there being some excluded items. Free higher education constitutes, therefore, a massive transfer from the poorest in our society to university students — those most likely to join the middle classes. The "quality" promised is also extremely doubtful in many (although not all) cases. Several of the universities that serve the poorest students, such as those in the former Bantustans, are in dire straits. Unisa was swamped this year with thous...

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