No fees will cost SA fiscus R250 billion over three years

Most of us are surely well aware of the recent protests around the #FeesMustFall movement, which has seen thousands of students demonstrate against fee increases and appeal for free higher education. In a recent presentation to MPs, the Parliamentary Budget Office projected that fee-free education at universities would cost South Africa around R250 billion over a three-year period.

According to Pali Lehohla, Statistician General, SA's higher education institutions received an income of R63 billion from operating activities for the financial year ending 31 December 2015 - some R4.9 billion higher than in the previous year. The increase was largely due to increases in such things as tuition fees and grants - the latter received from the Department of Higher Education.

Interestingly, total cash payments for operating activities at universities increased from R49.7 billion in 2014 to R54.1 billion in 2015 (an increase of R4.5 billion). According to Lehohla, the largest contributor to payments was employee compensation, which he said amounted to R31.4 billion - a 13.9% increase from the previous year.

When he delivers his mini budget today, Pravin Gordhan (pictured), Finance Minister, is expected to elaborate on how government plans to subsidise poor students.