University of Johannesburg Kingsway campus students flee from security guards during protests September 28, 2016 in Johannesburg — PICTURE: FELIX DLANGAMANDLA The main brief of the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training (The Fees Commission) demands that it enquires and makes findings on the feasibility of fee-free higher education in South Africa. The problem with the brief is that it is asking the wrong question. Firstly, there is no such thing as “free higher education”. Universities are very expensive. Rather, the issue is who pays what and when? Secondly, international research shows that there is broad agreement among economists of higher education funding that government subsidies are “regressive”, meaning that subsidies favour the rich. It is also worth noting that the South African constitution indexes affordable, and not free, education. According to British economist Nicholas Barr public universities in OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Dev...

Subscribe now to unlock this article.

Support BusinessLIVE’s award-winning journalism for R129 per month (digital access only).

There’s never been a more important time to support independent journalism in SA. Our subscription packages now offer an ad-free experience for readers.

Cancel anytime.

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.