Student debt and registration fees should be frozen - EFF

Finances are already an inhumane barrier to the doors of education, say Fighters


Friday, 19 February 2021

The EFF calls for the freezing of all debt owed to institutions of higher learning and for all registration fees to be waived for the year 2021. This is to allow for all students to be permitted to register regardless of money owed to universities and TVET Colleges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a detrimental impact on the economy of South Africa and ultimately this has affected the higher education sector. Students who belonged to bursaries have lost their funding as a result of businesses and corporate firms reducing their spending on corporate social initiatives, fee-paying parents have had to bear the burden of broader economic challenges in a climate where jobs are being lost and their places of employment are retrenching staff.

It is for this reason that there must be a total freezing of all student debt and registration fees for the year 2021 to accommodate the financial difficulties brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Finances are already an inhumane barrier to the doors of education, to further be insistent on students to pay fees in a time of human tragedy and economic strife is pure cruelty.

In the same way that we have called for payment holidays on rentals, house and car repayments, we call on government to exercise compassion and a sense of value for education as a social good by freezing student debt.

The EFF will write to Universities South Africa (USAF) and the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology to compel all institutions of higher learning to register all returning students regardless of whether they owe fees or not.

There has never been a time where education has been more important than today, when we need scholars from all spheres of life to be developed and contribute to the need to reconfigure society as we know it, after the surge of the deadly Corona Virus.

The call for freezing of student debt will be followed by the EFF tabling a Students' Debt Cancellation Private Member Bill, so as to allow all students to have access to their transcripts, seek job opportunities and further their studies.

Free education must be the ultimate goal if we are to achieve any semblance of economic and social development and the EFF reaffirms its commitment to this objective and to achieve it by any means necessary.

Statement issued by the Economic Freedom Fighters, 19 February 2021