The commission is this week holding public hearings in Durban.
Associate Professor at UKZN’s School of Life Sciences, Shahidul Islam, says the contribution of private companies towards infrastructure will free up more funds from the department for student financial aid.
Islam was asked by Committee member Advocate Gregory Ally about ensuring the autonomy of universities if they are paid for by private companies.
"The rules and regulations must be in place upfront, you ca'nt just tell them they will come and do anything. They can't do that. At the end of the day although they made the [contributions], they can't do anything - it will be controlled by the university. There must be a mutual agreement between the company and the university and everything must be done before," he said.
Meanwhile, student leadership represented at the Fees Commission say their input is vital to the discussion around fee-free education.
Member of SASCO and SRC President at UKZN's Howard College, Bandile Majola says as representatives on the ground, they're best placed to understand and convey the concerns of students.
"There are people in the middle who are poor because they cannot afford to pay for higher education. With free education being impossible, we are saying indeed this is possible but we have to come up with a sustainable way in which we can be able to say this is what we are paying for.
"For example, we were here not so long ago and the Vice Chancellor has failed to basically take us into confidence to [tell us] what it is exactly that we are paying for. None of our past Vice Chancellors were able to [answer] that question," he said.
The commission's due to submit a preliminary report to President Jacob Zuma in November.
Meanwhile, UKZN Vice Chancellor Albert van Jaarsveld says those students who struggle with financing their studies should receive assistance from the state.
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