Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande has commended the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) for heeding government’s call for higher learning institutions to partner with Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
Addressing the media following a visit to TUT, Minister Nzimande said the department wants Universities of Technology to support TVET colleges through a number of interventions.
“[Universities of Technology] must train college lecturers. We want to create a more articulate route between TVET colleges and universities of technology,” Minister Nzimande said.
TUT has formed partnerships with more than 20 TVET colleges.
The Minister visited the institution on Thursday to see if it was on track for the start of the 2015 academic year.
During the visit, he held meetings with the executive council, management, trade unions and the Student Representative Council. He later addressed the academics and support staff of the university.
Thousands benefit from NSFAS
TUT is the biggest contact university and the single largest recipient of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), with R475 million covering 21 000 students.
Minister Nzimande acknowledged that while this sounded like a substantial amount of money, it could not fully meet the needs of universities.
He said it was vital for his department and the universities to work closely together to properly manage these funds.
NSFAS funding has in the past five years increased from R3 billion to R9.5 billion.
The department is to finalise a Student Accommodation Policy, which will prioritise first-year students.
Disruption of lectures
The Minister reiterated the call for the protection of lectures at all costs, warning that violence and the disruption of lectures was totally unacceptable and the department would act against the culprits.
TUT council chairperson Bandile Masuku welcomed the Minister’s visit, saying it signalled the beginning of a new era and stability in the institution.
“It was a good gesture from the Minister and we are committed that the registration becomes unrest free,” said Masuku.
Acting Vice Chancellor of TUT, Professor Lourens van Staden, reported that the university was currently busy with enrolments after receiving 90 000 applications from first-time applicants.
“We are doing all the registrations online, hence there are no queues outside,” said Van Staden.
He also thanked the department for its support, which has allocated an amount of R1 billion between 2007 and 2014 towards the infrastructure of the institution.