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A social entrepreneur has worked up a blueprint for a solution for the higher education fees crisis: the University of Everywhere.

 

Times Live have reported that Ian McDonald, a social entrepreneur, has told the fees commission that the current education funding model, where students have to pay for education, is not suitable for a poor third-world country like South Africa.

Universities are at a tipping point as chaos rules around the country. The #FeesMustFall movement has cost 18 varsity campuses more than R460 million in damage to property alone.

The Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training (The Fees Commission) was established in 1996 and are currently investigating the feasibility of free higher education.

“Free higher education is affordable, but not under the current university model, so it has to “change to suit South Africa”. We need to create a platform where the current 26 universities would provide courses online to be accessible to everyone, everywhere, any time and free.”

In his University of Everywhere, lectures are recorded and loaded onto a system which feeds into centres based in 20000 communities across the country.

“There were 20,000 voting stations in the last elections that reached everyone so the university is guaranteed to be within everybody’s reach at no travel and accommodation costs,” McDonald said.

This would mean that students who could afford classes, would still be able to go to the campuses while paying the fees and funding universities. And students who could not afford the fees would have smaller offsite “classrooms” where they would have access to the information without the hefty payments.

“The University of Everywhere seeks to supplement the current university system.”

“It will not be an academic institution, but a platform where universities present courses online,” he said.

The franchised model could see community learning centres placed in fully equipped, prefabricated steel structures. This would also create business opportunities for unemployed youth in the area.

The structures & access to internet with infrastructure would initially be funded by government… but run by community entrepreneurs.

“Each structure would have 44 free workstations with free devices, free university courses and free data. The University of Everywhere could create 100000 jobs and benefit 800000 dependants.”

“Each franchise would cost about R80,000 to start up, with the initial funding capital coming from the government, businesses and donors.”

“The idea was a solution that would save the country billions of rands and ensure targets of 1.62million tertiary students enrolled by 2030.”

A separate presentation by a student organisation pointed out to the fees commission that free education for all had the potential to collapse South Africa’s higher education sector as it would result in flooding the sector with students that were not academically inclined.

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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