With the majority of South African students relying on government for funding and tertiary fees, many students do not get the opportunity to study further or complete their studies due to lack of funds. Students from poor households put their education hopes on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). In an article by Michelle Gumede (February 19, 2017) for the Business DAY, It was reported that NSFAS has rejected over 50 000 applicants for reasons such as low academic results to low income households. In 2017 NSFAS board chairperson Sizwe Nxasana said that the number of funded students is expected to rise to a region of 450 000 from the 400 000 NSFAS had normally funded in the past. Unfortunately many students do not get the opportunity and their applications are not successful.
Fees must fall, that phrase and the movement behind that phrase began a student led protest in October 2015 in response to an increment of tertiary fees in the universities across South Africa. The movement gained motion from the University of Witwatersrand University (Wits) and then rolled over to other universities in South Africa, major ones like University of Cape Town also got involved as university and none university students protested from campuses, streets and parliament. The protest in 2015 had the nation and the world watching as tertiary education stood still while students united for one goal and course, from across different backgrounds, cultures and race they were united by the phrase Fees Must Fall. The movement was led by many activists who some got arrested such as Mcebo Dlamini who is still in trial for the Fees Must Fall related incidents. The movement was so powerful government was prompted to set up a fees commission looking into the feasibility of free tertiary education.