Hon Deputy Speaker and hon members of this august House, between 18 and 22 June this year, the committee visited five institutions in the Eastern Cape: Water Sisulu University; Fort Hare; Buffalo City; Lovedale and Port Elizabeth FET Colleges in our routine oversight work. Amongst the issues that we had to look at was that of infrastructural challenges in our institutions, students access and success, institutional transformation, and so on.
At Walter Sisulu University, the committee observed that the University is currently under administration and is technically bankrupt, operating on a deficit of about R135 million. We have also noticed that since the merger process of the three institutions that constitute this university, there hasn't been harmonisation of several policies, including the human resources policies of the institution. So, there has not been an effective institutional integration.
During our interaction with stakeholders in this university, they expressed concerns relating to conflicts of interest by some members of the administrator's team. We have noted that there is quite a huge need with regard to financial aid, particularly to academically deserving students from indigent backgrounds.
We noted in this institution - which is also a problem that is pervasive in various other institutions - the issue of infrastructural dilapidation - an environment that is not quite conducive to effective learning for our students. We have seen leaking water pipes, toilets that cannot flush and the fact that students are bathing in cold water. We think that the department should give attention to those matter, in order to ensure effective learning for students.
At the University of Fort Hare, we were impressed with the cordial relations amongst stakeholders and the institutional stability that characterises that institution. However, we did also note a problem of inadequacy of accommodation. The university also informed us that they had actually sent an application to the Department of Arts and Culture to have some precincts in that university that were utilised by Comrade Nelson Mandela and other luminaries of our struggle, declared as heritage sites. We think that the matter will be given due consideration by the relevant department. We have conversed with the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture and that matter is, indeed, being attended to.
At Buffalo City FET College, which shares similar problems with other colleges, there is a decline in student enrolment and an acute shortage of student residences. There are delays regarding issuance of academic transcripts and certificates we refer to as the National Certificate Vocational, NCV, and 191 reports. We are impressed and encouraged by the fact that we are seeing efforts to ensure that those results are really issued. The information technology platform of the department has improved to enable proper capturing of students' results.
There is a high failure rate of the NCV programmes. It is argued that this is precipitated by inadequate teacher development in the FET sector. There were issues that were raised by stakeholders regarding race relations, racism and nepotism. We think the department must take note of all these issues.
We recommend, amongst others, that the administrators at Walter Sisulu University must ensure that systems and internal control measures are put in place to prevent financial mismanagement. We recommend that institutional policies must be integrated and harmonised so that we could have a single institution in terms of policy framework.
The department must look into the allegations that were raised regarding conflicts of interest and take corrective action, if necessary. We would like to urge the Department of Public Works to look into the long-standing application for the transfer of houses occupied by staff at the University of Fort Hare. We have conversed with the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and we are encouraged that the matter has been referred to the Minister and that they will look into that.
The last matter relates to infrastructural dilapidation and student residences. We are saying that this matter should be given priority, particularly in the postschool education landscape. I understand that one of our colleagues, Comrade Bhanga, who is very young and consistent in our meetings, must make a declaration. I hope that declaration is not in the line of what he said earlier in the House, that institutional autonomy, academic freedom and scientific research is under threat in our country, because I think, as a young learned man ... [Time expired.]
There was no debate.