Adam Habib: Where would the money to fund free education come from?

Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand Professor Adam Habib says the announcement made by President Jacob Zuma of free higher education for the poor is worrying because there is little clarity on how this would be implemented.

President Zuma on Saturday morning made an announcement that government will introduce fully-funded free higher education for poor and working class students.

When I had a conversation with people at Treasury they said to me that it's going to cost around R40 billion in the first year.

Adam Habib, Wits Vice-Chancellor

My big fear is that if government doesn't make that money available to the universities then the universities will begin to go into a crisis. The quality will begin to decline and we will do to higher education what we did to primary and basic education.

Adam Habib, Wits vice-Chancellor

Habib says when Wits University opens in January, it would need about R350 million to be able to run for three months, which government doesn't subsidise.

He says they have R1.6 billion that comes in annually through fees, and with government declaring education to be free, he asks if the state will be providing the funds to the university.

The question is would government make that money available? In previous years it made some money available.

Adam Habib, Wits vice-Chancellor

And if it doesn't, what do I do when I have to pay salaries?

Adam Habib, Wits vice-Chancellor

He says he would be happy if government would make available R40 billion by 2 January to fund free education.

But I have been in South Africa long enough and I understood public institutions long enough to know that's not the way government operates and to know that they sometimes make decisions and then there is no financing that flows from it.

Adam Habib, Wits vice-Chancellor

To hear more from Professor Adam Habib, listen below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Adam Habib: Where would the money to fund free education come from?


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