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South Africa: Higher Education Needs More Funding

Date Released: Fri, 7 March 2014 11:59 +0200

We need to produce a generation of academics rather than a generation of job seekers, but this would not be possible unless we take learning, teaching and research, more seriously than we do at present.

This was one point made by Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor and Chairperson of Higher Education South Africa (HESA), Dr Saleem Badat, during a presentation today to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training on the context, achievements and key challenges in higher education in the 20th year of democracy.

The Committee was concerned about universities and colleges that admit students, especially those who rely on National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding, but later exclude them on financial grounds because their academic costs in the previous year had not been completely covered by the loan.

The Committee Chairperson, Adv Ishmael Malale, said the Committee urged institutions to reveal how much they received from external donors, which would present a more complete picture of their financial resources. "We always hear institutions complaining that they have a shortfall and require more funding to carry out some of their academic activities. Unfortunately, they don't reveal how much they have from other sources," Adv Malale said.

Despite efforts by the government to increase student funding from R11bn in 2006 to R26bn in 2013, Dr Badat said higher education expenditure had actually declined in real and per student terms. He said adequate student funding remained a major constraint to improving equity of access, opportunity and outcomes.

The HESA report also revealed that despite efforts to normalise racial profiles at universities and colleges, enrolments at historically white institutions continued to reflect a lower proportion of black people than demographics demanded, while white students remained concentrated at those institutions. Conversely, historically black institutions remained almost exclusively black.

The Committee proposed a summit with all stakeholder to discuss, among other issues, student fees, financial exclusions and how NSFAS support could be sustained over time to increase participation in higher education to meet both equity and growth rate targets.


Article Source: http://allafrica.com/stories/201403060281.html