Equal Education: Government can afford free education

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JOHANNESBURG, 25 October 2015 - The past week has been riddled with student protests as the FeesMustFalll movement saw uprisings on campuses around the country. Jeremy Maggs gives us a wrap of all the newsworthy events of the week.

JOHANNESBURG - Equal Education has called on the government to trim the bloated Cabinet in order to increase funding for higher education.

The NGO says universities can not and must not be expected to carry the burden of free tertiary education.

Addressing the commission of inquiry into higher education and training, sitting in  in Cape Town, the NGO said poor people should not have to pay for education.

READ: The real cost of education: StatsSA

The inquiry into higher education has been hosting a series of hearings into the feasibility of free tertiary education.

The group insists government has the money.

Said spokesman Andile Cele: "There&39;s money when you look for it. SAA is always looking for bailouts, Eskom is always looking for bailouts. We built stadiums for the World Cup. We found money, but those things are gone so if we look for the money [for education], we will find it "

Student activists are not only demanding a zero percent fee increase for 2017, they&39;re calling for free tertiary education across the board.

READ: Education council recommends blanket university fee increase

The University of the Western Cape believes the call has some merit.

The university&39;s vice-chancellor, Vivienne Bozalek, said: " As long as there&39;s an appropriate level of funding, we are in support of the principle of free access to higher education to the poor, including the missing middle."

The National Research Foundation also made submissions to the commission, calling for more funding for postgraduate students.

"It is imperative to provide adequate funding for postgraduates students and in our case as well because [as] people who conduct research - whether it&39;s on water or climate change or anything - we wish to pursue [it]."

The hearings in Cape Town conclude on Tuesday.