Pretoria – The Standing and Select Committees on Appropriations as well as the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training have unanimously agreed that funding for the post-school education sector has to be increased.
This follows a joint meeting held on 4 November as part of the hearings on the 2015 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).
The three committees were briefed by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on funding of the post-school education and training sector, including the implications of the no fee increment at universities for 2016.
Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations Paul Mashatile said it is clear that funding for post-school education has to be increased.
“As for the extent of the increase, that is something that still has to be debated as we continue with our hearings in the next few weeks as part of the MTBPS processes,” said Mashatile.
Chairperson of the Select Committee on Appropriations Seiso Mohai said they have been given assurance by the DHET that funds will be made available in the 2016/17 budget to deal with the shortfall resulting from the no fee increment.
“Funds will also be made available in the current departmental budget (2015/16) to assist universities that may have difficulties with funding in the first few months of next year before the new financial year. With this assurance, there is therefore no need to amend the adjustment budget,” said Mohai.
Mohai said work was ongoing with regards to long-term plans on post-school education funding. He said DHET gave them an opportunity to have an understanding of the extent of the challenges.
“In responding to these, there is a need to come up with a comprehensive plan catering for both universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.
“The fact that resources have been found in the system to cover the shortfall means that we can cast our eye on the long-term interventions when dealing with the MTBPS processes.”
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training Yvonne Phosa said all these developments were a result of ongoing efforts to ensure that poor and academically deserving students gain access to post-school education and training.
“The 0.62% of the gross domestic product apportioned to higher education is clearly insufficient. More funds have to be found in order for DHET to be able to deliver on its mandate.
“We’re also emphasising the need for government and the private sector to partner in dealing with the funding challenges. It’s also important to shift the focus from universities to the post-school sector as a whole,” said Phosa.
The Higher Education and Training presentation indicated that there would be a shortfall of R2.330 billion resulting from the no fee increment in 2016.
The department, in consultation with National Treasury, will contribute R1.935 billion, while universities will put in R394.7 million.