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On the back of decades of austerity, marketisation, credentialisation and related neoliberal conceptions of education and society, student funding models have greatly transformed the higher education sector and its perceived role in enabling and/or hindering efforts to achieve a more just and equitable society.

Despite their well-documented history of indenturing students, their present and future families, government guaranteed Income Contingent Loans (ICLs) continue to be canvassed by some South African policymakers and interest groups as a necessary ladder of educational opportunity, particularly for students from traditionally excluded communities.

Neither the loud voices of the #FeesMustFall movement nor the current student-debt crisis in American HE have deterred ongoing attempts to hand over South African youth, and arguably South Africa’s sovereignty, to commercial banks through government guaranteed ICLs.

Inspired by a combination of Jeffrey William’s The Pedagogy of Debt, Carter G Woodson’s Miseducation, Ha-Joon Chang’s idea of Bad Samaritans and President Kwame Nkrumah’s theory of Neo-colonial Client States, and to add to voices of free public HE and student debt abolition movements such as the Debt Collective, Dr Masutha will critically review the recommendations of Ministerial Task Team Report and Judge Heher Report (both commissioned by the South African government) to offer an analysis of the likely impact of the proposed ICLs to South Africa. He will advance a case for freeing public higher education for all on the basis of mutual aid, transitional and reparative justice.


Dr Mukovhe Masutha is a Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg's Ali Mazrui Centre for Higher Education Studies and Director of the Centre for Emerging Researchers (CER).