Education opportunities: Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande, right, with his deputy Mduduzi Manana. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA
Education opportunities: Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande, right, with his deputy Mduduzi Manana. Picture: SIYABULELA DUDA

Three technical and vocational education and training (TVET) campuses will open in 2017 to absorb some of the hundreds of thousands matrics who failed to get university exemption.

Of the 610,178 pupils who wrote matric in 2016, 162,374 are eligible for bachelor degree admission and just more than 240,000 for diploma and higher-certificate studies.

The white paper for post-school education and training envisages expanding college enrolments from about 700,000 to 2.5-million by 2030. But in a reply to a parliamentary question in 2016,

Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande said in the absence of an increase in the baseline funding for enrolments, his department would not achieve the white paper’s targets and would have to adjust its enrolment targets from 2017.

Nzimande said the TVET college budget for the 2017-18 financial year amounted to R19.8bn, leaving an estimated R10.7bn shortfall, based on the current baseline allocation of just more than R9bn.

The estimated total shortfall over the 2017 medium term was about R43bn.

The new campuses are:

• Thabazimbi Campus at the Waterberg TVET College,
in Limpopo;

• Bambanani Campus at uMfolozi TVET College in KwaZulu-Natal; and

• Nkandla A Campus at uMfolozi TVET College in KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking on Thursday at a media briefing to outline the post-school education opportunities available to matriculants, Nzimande said those who had completed grade 12 with a minimum of a higher certificate could consider studying at one of the 50 public TVET colleges. TVET colleges would accept 207,510 new enrollments in 2017, he said.

The NSF would continue to invest in TVET colleges, funding about 15,000 pupils per year in occupationally directed programmes that are linked to scarce and critical skills areas

"The National Development Plan further requires that by 2030 at least 30,000 qualified artisans be produced per year. To this end, learners must continue to seek and utilise Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) or National Skills Fund (NSF)-funded artisan learnerships or apprenticeship opportunities to access artisan training in the various fields of engineering and services areas," Nzimande said.

The NSF would continue to invest in TVET colleges, funding about 15,000 pupils per year in occupationally directed programmes that are linked to scarce and critical skills areas.

He said the National Student Financial Aid Scheme would fund 205,000 first-time and current students at universities and 200,000 students at TVET colleges in 2017 by providing R15.2bn in student loans and bursaries. Late in 2017 Nzimande announced universities would be allowed to increase fees for 2017, but by no more than 8%. This is likely to spark further student protests in 2017.

He said the government would fund with a grant the fee increase, capped at 8%, for all qualifying registered students with a gross combined family income up to R600,000 per annum in 2017. The grant would cover increases for tuition fees and university or college-managed accommodation, and will not have to be repaid by qualifying students, Nzimande said.

The presidential commission of inquiry into the funding of higher education and training is set to release its final report in mid-2017, making recommendations on the feasibility of implementing fee-free higher education and training.

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