In a joint meeting between the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and the Standing and Select Committees on Appropriations, the Higher Education Minister presented the Department’s position on funding of the post-school education and training sector. President Jacob Zuma had recently announced that there would be a 0% increase in university fees next year. He made the announcement after students embarked on nationwide protest action against proposed fee increases.
The Minister admitted that government funding of the university sector had been insufficient and while he sympathised with the plight of university students, it was vitally important that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET) colleges should not be forgotten.He also conceded that the spending on universities had not increased in proportion with the successful increase in the number of black students at universities. Whatever support was approved, should be spread across the entire post-school education and training (PSET) sector.
Some interesting outcomes of the joint meeting were:
- The shortfall in 2016 due to the 0% increase will be R2.33 billion
- It has been agreed that government will cover R1.935 billion of the shortfall and universities will cover the remaining R394.7 million
- The baseline for university funding must be increased by at least R2.4 billion in 2017 to offset the 0% increase in 2016
- The NSFAS shortfall to support all qualifying students amounts to approximately R4.4 billion
- NSFAS needed approximately R37 billion over the MTEF to cover 25.5% of undergraduate students at full cost of study
- University funding as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in South Africa, is less than other countries
For more details on higher education funding, see infographic below: