In light of the protests at institutions of higher learning in the Free State, Mpumalanga and North West, there is clearly a need for government to take immediate action.

Every year students take to the streets to voice their frustrations and every year their protests fall on deaf ears. The reality is that nothing significant has been done to address the issues faced by new and returning students, including historic debt, poor infrastructure, late National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) payouts and registration fees.

In his briefing last week, higher education minister Blade Nzimande showed no empathy for students who cannot afford tertiary tuition and admitted, in as many words, that little has been done to help those who have suffered at the hands of a broken education system. Nothing has been done to ease the challenges faced by students at institutions of higher learning.

There should be a payment schedule for NSFAS funds, and it should adhere to deadlines. The minister must reject the intended plan to cut the higher education budget by R400m, money that was intended for infrastructure at technical and vocational education and training colleges.

A full investigation should be conducted of any institution demanding upfront registration from poor qualifying students.

Baxolile Nodada, MP, Deputy shadow higher education, science & technology minister

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