Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Blade Nzimande, on Friday announced his department's intent to ensure that half of all undergraduate students in public universities have their tuition paid for by the state.
Delivering his budget vote speech in Parliament, Nzimande said: "In 2018, a national bursary scheme was introduced to support students from families earning a gross annual income of up to R350 000 per anum at universities and TVET colleges to cover their full tuition cost, books and learner support materials and to provide subsidies to assist with accommodation, living expenses and transport costs where appropriate.
"This bursary was phased in from 2018 with first-year students. This year is first [and] second-year students, we're moving to the third-year cohort such that by 2022 the scheme will cover all cohorts of students across the university system.
"This scheme, honourable chair and honourable members, will mean that it will support approximately half of all the undergraduate student population at public universities," he said.
To drive the point home, the minister emphasised the point in isiZulu saying: " Uhalf wabantwana abazobe befunda kumaUniversity by 2022 bazobe belekelelwa yimfundaze kaHulumeni."
Nzimande also elaborated on the department's aims to vastly increase the "total headcount enrollment" in higher education, public and private institutions to 1.62 million by 2030, as envisaged by the National Development Plan.
The minister, who is also the general secretary of the South African Communist Party, said he aims to bolster this effort through the creation of what will essentially be a one-stop shop for university applications.
"Through our public universities, we have also implemented the Central Applications Clearing House to efficiently and effectively manage the enrollments of prospective students as a prelude to introducing the Central Applications Service which, once established, will provide a one-stop shop for applications. In other words, we are working towards every applicant to make one application to all our institutions," he said.