South African President Announces Free Higher Education

We’ve highlighted below some of the most recent developments and occurrences in youth-related news and events. In this week's news we speak about the plan created by South African President who promised free higher education for ninety percent of households in his country, large amount of unspent funds at Swedish universities, and latest protests in Iran where more than 40 students have been arrested.

South African President announces free higher education

Students coming from poor and working-class homes could be affected by the latest announcement by the government that promises free higher education for ninety percent of South African households. The idea is to fund eligible students through grants, not loans. In the case this becomes reality, meals, accomodation, tuition, study materials and transport would be covered by these grants. The programme is scheduled to begin next year and be phased in over the next five years.

Swedish universities accumulated a large pot of unspent funds

The Swedish National Audit Office (NAO) has found that Swedish universities accumulated a large pot of unspent funds over the last years. Around US$1.4 billion remained unspent, US$593 million out of it being money intended for higher education. In an interview with Radio Sweden, Minister of Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson said: “This is very serious because this is money that is supposed to be used. I find it deeply problematic that resources are unspent instead of being used to improve the quality of higher education.” NAO tried to investigate whether funds were used effectively, and their representative Helena Lindberg stated: “The investigation found that education institutions have difficulties in using the increased budget allocations. Since 2007 the higher education institutions have received SEK20 billion (US$2.4 billion) in increased income, while SEK12 billion (US$1.4 billion) is left unspent as saved resources.” Some people suggest that one of the reasons for saving this amount of money is uncertainty over future government allocations and hence saving is used as a backup.

More than 40 university students arrested in Iran

According to information received by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), more than 40 Iranian students have been arrested in the wake of the recent protests. Most of the arrested students are activists who are being held in Evin Prison’s Ward 209. A student activist from Teheran told CHRI that “several students called their families and said they were inside Ward 209, which belongs to the Intelligence Ministry.” On December 30 and 31, students who protested at the Amirkabir University of Technology and Teheran University were heard shouting slogans such as ”Students will die, but won’t take humiliation.”

Photo: Shutterstock

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