Higher education and training minister Blade Nzimande has told parliament that increasing university student funding was tantamount to the country shooting itself in the foot.

This as a crisis already exists within public colleges, which are funded at about 62% instead of 80%, he told the portfolio committee on higher education on Tuesday.   

“I would be irresponsible if I didn’t highlight the fact that while increasing student funding is welcome, it is not sufficient because if we increase student funding at the expense of the system, we are then shooting ourselves in the foot. In fact, we will be cutting off our nose to spite our face because, already, right now, there is [a threat] that student funding will be more than the money we give to universities and colleges to run their affairs.

“Already with colleges we are in big trouble because we are funding colleges at about 62% when we should be at 80%. With universities, we are driving towards that — and it’s a big problem,” he said.

Nzimande said increasing the funding would almost collapse SA’s public education system, citing high rates of failing among students and the possibility of losing personnel, including lecturers.

“As we increase student funding, we should also be pushing for an increase, otherwise we are funding students to go into a system that will increasingly be unable to address their needs — what’s the point of doing that?”

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