The Fees Commission chairperson invited students yesterday to participate in the commission’s work to achieve a long-term solution that would be to their satisfaction.
Judge Jonathan Arthur Heher yesterday also called on them to put some trust in the commission.
“We are concerned that the students are not taking part in the Fees Commission. We hope they will change their outlook and the sooner the better,” Heher said in an address to the National Press Club in Pretoria.
The commission is investigating the feasibility of introducing free education at varsities, as students are demanding.
He said that the report would be finalised in April/May next year and if students still had not come to the table, he would mention that the report lacked their input.
“I hope the students will come to realise they have to put some trust in us.
“We are looking at a long-term solution,” Heher said.
The commission was appointed by President Jacob Zuma after last year’s #FeesMustFall protests.
The protests resumed this week after an announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande that fees would increase by a maximum of 8% for rich students, at the discretion of universities.
Heher added that students must realise there would be certain consequences of free education.
“A greater number of student will have access to higher education – greater infrastructure will be needed, such as buildings, libraries and additional support and academic staff.”
He emphasised that serious consideration should be given to the fact that less money equalled bad education.
“Students’ success in this country is also very poor and needs to be addressed.
“In the end, the job of the commission is to balance the task and see where money is available and where it could be sourced,” Heher added.
“We’re attempting‚ in their best interests‚ to achieve a solution which would satisfy them.
“And, indeed‚ perhaps we may go even further than they could ever hope.
“But one has to be realistic. Despite the fact that the minister of finance has apparently made some remarks which suggest that the money could be found‚ I don’t know in what context those remarks were made,” the judge added.