Invitation to discussion on principle and implementation possibilities of fee-free higher education

01 December 2016 | Story by Newsroom

1 December 2016

Dear students, staff and the broader UCT community

A large focus of the student protests both at UCT and nationally is the call for decolonised, free, quality higher education. There have been calls for universities to engage with this campaign. UCT has submitted a document to the government, which clarifies its position on the call for free education (read the document). This position was formed without widespread consultation.

The agreement signed between the UCT executive and the SRC Candidates on 7 November 2016 includes a section on the funding of higher education (read the agreement). In particular it expresses "support for investigating the principle and implementation possibilities of fee-free higher education (recognising that there may be competing views and solutions and that the university may not settle on a single consensus position)". The message contains a commitment to "engaging in debates and lobbying at national level" and supporting "a formal ongoing research programme into the economic policy framework for higher education".

The following are possible objectives of an institutional process:

  1. To facilitate engagement between students, staff and workers around the call for free, quality, decolonised education in a manner that builds deeper understanding
  2. To draw on insights from different disciplines, universities and lived experiences to contribute to this deeper understanding of the drivers of the call and the solutions that have been proposed
  3. To identify research that needs to be undertaken and provide opportunities for collaborative research in addressing these questions both at UCT and on a national level.

The following principles will guide the facilitation of the process:

  1. The process should be facilitated in a manner that empowers interested UCT community members to use their skills and experiences in making meaningful contributions to the debate
  2. The students' lived experiences of problems associated with higher education funding should form part of the research
  3. The planning of the process should involve all stakeholders, ie it should be a joint initiative.

There will be a meeting on 5 December at 16:15 in the Mafeje room in the Bremner building. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss kick-starting this process with the aim of broader participation when the 2017 academic year begins. The mandate will be narrow given that participation will be hindered, particularly for students who have been sent home following the completion of the academic year.

Please contact rochelle.speller@uct.ac.za if you are interested.

All are welcome.

Sincerely

Professor Anwar Mall
Deputy Vice-Chancellor


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