Minister of Higher Education and Training Budget Speech, responses by DA, FF+, IFP, EFF


12 May 2022

Watch: Mini-plenary

Minister Blade Nzimande: Higher Education and Training Dept Budget Vote 2022/23

12 May 2022

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande address on the occasion of the Department of Higher Education and Training Budget Vote 2022

Honourable House Chairperson;
Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Honourable Buti Manamela;
Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation;
Director-General of the Department;
Chairpersons, Vice Chancellors, Principals and CEO’s of all our PSET institutions;
All stakeholders of our PSET;
Honourable Members;

This marks our fourth budget statement for the Department of Higher Education and Training since the commencement of the 6th Democratic Parliament.

Our vision remains that of providing an integrated and coordinated Post School Education and Training System for improved economic participation and social development of the youth and adults.

In support of this vision, we are steadfast to provide strategic leadership through the development of appropriate steering mechanisms, effective oversight, monitoring and evaluation, teaching and learning as well as funding our PSET institutions and entities.

We will continue to implement the White Paper for the PSET which provides our policy priorities and the National Plan for PSET (NPPSET) which serve as an instrument central to the achievement of our vision.

We also continue to enhance our internal capacity by advertising and filling critical posts. Since 2020, 411 Posts were advertised, 201 (49%) of these posts were finalised with 210 (51%) still to be finalised in the current financial year.

The National Skills Authority will conduct Skills audit pilots in five (5) districts of our country to ensure that government directs its skills training and resources in areas where they are needed the most. 

Honourable Members

In managing the COVID -19 pandemic, our sector introduced intervention to assist us to conclude the 2021 academic year and begin the 2022 academic on time.

However, I am proud that our system remained resilient, despite the numerous challenges of funding constraints, COVID-19 restrictions and new forms of teaching and learning.

We are however concerned about the growth trajectory of our PSET system which is university centric.

The internal composition of PSET funding system and its ratios relative to each other requires careful forward management to ensure a balanced growth trajectory firstly, to ensure the TVET component grows faster and secondly, to enable subsidy and infrastructure funding that can support rapid student enrolment growth.

The overall total enrolments within the public university sector have been projected to be 1 110 361 for the 2022 academic year.

A considerable portion of the spaces within scarce skills areas require a National Senior Certificate (NSC) Mathematics mark of at least 60%. As a result, through my Department of Science and Innovation, we have developed collaborations with Provincial Departments of Education to support mathematics, science and technology education (MSTE).

This intervention will ensure that we increase the number of learners passing Grade 12 in mathematics, science and technology education.

To ensure that the entire public sector university system is developed, implementation of the University Capacity Development Programme (UCDP) will continue to be intensified to improve student success, quality of teaching and learning, including research and to support curriculum renewal in all our universities.

This year we will also be launching the Professor Sibusiso Bhengu Development programme to strengthen our historically disadvantaged universities.

Within the Department of Higher Education and Training, we have increased the number of students enrolled in TVET colleges from 452 277 in 2020/21 to 580 849 in the 2022/23.

We will also increase TVET college students receiving funding through NSFAS bursaries from 261 404 in 2020/21 to 329 554 in 2022/23.

We will also commit to place 10 000 unemployed TVET students in workplaces.

We will also release examination results per cycle for qualifying students from last date of exams within 40 days and issue certificates within three (3) months to qualifying candidates following publication of results.

Our CET colleges are now entering into a new dispensation, supported by the rest of the PSET sector. This was affirmed during our successful CET Summit held early this year.  The Summit Resolutions include R200 million funding committed to fund skills programmes provision for CET Colleges.

We are currently reviewing the  five-year enrolment plan for CET colleges and developing a sustainable funding model for this sector.

In addition to academic, skills and occupational programmes already on offer, CET colleges will offer two (2) new accredited programmes which are Entrepreneurship and Digital Skills programmes.

Nine Hundred (900) CET college lecturers will be trained in accredited training programmes. We will also accredit thirty-five (35) pilot community learning centres, which will be an addition to the fifteen (15) community learning centres accredited in 2021/22.

Our CET colleges will now utilise the TVET College infrastructure to expand provision of short skills programmes and accredited for short skills programmes as part of an innovative Quality Assurance model developed by the Quality Council for Trades and Occupation (QCTO).

We will also ensure that a percentage of SETA discretionary grant funding is dedicated to CET Colleges including providing some of their training programmes.

Our CETs will also increase the scope of their partnerships with other government departments and community organisations such as faith based organisations for increased access and skills programmes provision.

Honourable Members

As a department, we are steadfast to deal with instances of maladministration and corruption at the National Skills Fund.

I have appointed a forensic company to conduct a full-scale forensic investigation into financial affairs of the NSF after amount of just under R5 billion could not be properly accounted for over two financial years. I equally appointed a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) to conduct a strategic review of the NSF, the general operations of the NSF, its efficiency and relevance with regards to the national skills priorities of the country.

These interventions will ensure that  the NSF accounts for the resources allocated to it.  A final report will be submitted to me  by June this year.

Honourable Chairperson

It is projected that the skills levy that is recovered from employers who contribute 1% of the skills levy towards the skills system will increase from R18.9 billion in 2021/22 to R20.6 billion in 2022/23.

We also have taken a decision to prioritize this sector by re-allocate additional funds from the National Skills Fund.

We have begun a process of crafting one country one skills plan (Master Skills Plan).This process will promote a more efficient and effective mechanism for our country-wide skills planning.

As part of my service level agreement with the SETAs, they will incorporate government priorities, especially on those to address the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality as captured in the National Development Plan in their Sector Skills Plans.

They will therefore develop their Annual Performance Plans (APPs) to address skills challenges in various sectors of the economy and country in general.

In keeping with President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa’s 2022 State of the Nation (SoNA) Address 2022 and in support of the ERRP, will ensure that our skills development system increase learners placed in Work-based Learning programmes from   78 317 in 2020/21 to 107 000 in 2022/23.

We will also Increase our learners registered in skills development programmes from 43 885 in 2020/21 to 148 000 in 2022/23 and increase our learners entering artisanal programmes from 10 302 in 2020/21 to 22 000 in 2022/23.

We project that 20 500 learners will pass artisan trade test in 2022/23, an increase from 15 107 in 2020/21.

Learners who complete llearnerships will also increase from 24 136 in 2020/21 to 31 300 in this financial year and learners who complete internships will stabilize at 5 200.

The SETAs combined, placed 44 619 unemployed into learnerships, of which over 34 710 were young people below the ages of 35 years old and over 25 550 were females at the cost of about R 1 billion.

In the previous financial year, we SETAs placed 9 901 interns, of which 9 096 were young people below the age of 35 years old and 6 455 were females. Our SETAs spent just over R883 million in this regard.

For TVET placement, SETAs placed about 8 539 learners with females at 5 656 at the cost at the total cost of R393 million.

For the university placement, SETAs placed 5 183 learners in workplaces at the value of R300 million.

We have also established entrepreneurship hubs at TVET Colleges to support students to move into self-employment after completion of their programmes.

Both our Universities and TVET Colleges curricula are being reviewed and strengthened to be relevant to skills required by local employers, communities and the economy.

On the other hand, ninety five percent (95%) of SETAs are targeted to meet standards of good governance, with 100% of their allocated SETA Mandatory Grants paid to employers.

SETAs will process qualifying trade test applications within forty (40) days of receipt for trade testing and develop credible Sector Skills Plans. They will also produce reports on the implementation of the Skills Strategy.

To further ensure the rapid skilling and training of our youth, particularly those in rural and townships, we are going to focus our attention to their training in areas such as agriculture and information and communication technologies.

Our SETAs will be supporting my Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) in the development of critical high-end skills in selected technology areas such as the bioeconomy, space science, technology energy, intellectual property management.

Honourable Members

Government remains firmly committed to financially support students from poor and working class backgrounds, whilst also putting a sustainable mechanism in place to support students from the so-called ‘missing middle’ and postgraduate students.

The budget of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in 2022/23 is R49 billion of which the Department of Higher Education and Training is contributing R45.9 billion. This includes funding reprioritised from the Departmental budget, to ensure that the full shortfall for the NSFAS is addressed in 2022/23 to support students during the 2022 academic year.

Our National Skills Fund will also provide budget support for scholarships and bursaries for the 2022/23 financial year amounting to  R866 million, which is made up of R221 million to the National Research Foundation (NRF)), R527 million to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), R80 million (R241 million will be availed over the MTEF) to the Department of Agriculture, land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and R37.9 million to the DHET Internal Scholarship .

Collectively our SETAs spent R701.9 million in support of the missing middle students. In the 2021/22 financial year, our SETAs we will be spending R1 billion.

Another source of funding are various bursaries and loan schemes that our institutions administer internally within the institutions.

As part of the development of our Comprehensive Student Funding model, through the Ministerial Task team on student funding, we are engaging both the public and private components of the financial sector to come up with a funding model to support students in the ‘Missing middle’ income bracket and Post Graduate students who cannot secure funding from the National Research Foundation.

I however must indicate that the MTT is already engaging the Banking Association of South Africa and significant progress is made in this regard.

The Ministerial Task Team will be presenting to me its final report by the end of May this year.

Honourable Members

As a department, we remain committed to strengthening and developing the PSET sector by investing in infrastructure to provide quality teaching, learning and research and innovation spaces.

We are also reviewing our current existing model of cooperation with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), to make it more effective and in line with our plans of use our PSET infrastructure to stimulate economic development  and inclusion.

The total amount currently available for investment in infrastructure projects across the 26 universities during the 2022/23 to 2023/24 MTEF period is R7.584 billion with R2.953 billion going towards student housing for the delivery of 16 858 beds across 11 universities (15 898 new beds and 960 refurbished beds).

Clearly R2.953 billion is inadequate for student accommodation, therefore we will seek private sector partnerships, including those already indicating they are investing on their own.

We will also capitalise the feasibility studies of the new universities of Science and Innovation and a new Crime Detection University through the Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) to the value of R6 million.

I have revitalised and expanded the Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct project as a pilot to explore and test an alternative modality of education delivery, based on closer multi-educational institutional co-operation, closer articulation, with science and innovation linkages.

This integration will ensure that we produce a well- rounded student who is ready to take up their positions within our economy and society. For this project we have allocated R90 million during the fourth Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) cycles (2015/16-2017/18).

For the current MTEF, an allocation of R182.11 million has been recommended.

The next precinct to be established will be in Giyani in Limpopo, where will be setting up a university campus as well.

We have set aside R10 million for the expansion and relocation of the University of Zululand teacher training faculty to the former Zululand Parliamentary Precinct at Ulundi.  This amount will cover planning costs and project initiation financial requirements including critical physical planning and built milestones such as your Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Geotech studies, and other investigations to be undertaken ahead of the construction phase.

We are also building the Sekhukhune Skills Development Centre to the value of R146.9 million, through our Wholesale and Retail SETA, in collaboration with the Sekhukhune TVET college.

I am pleased to report that in the current financial year, we have added a number of campus level projects to our TVET infrastructure initiative to the combined investment of R2.9 billion. 

Honourable Members

Our budget for the 2022/23 financial year is  R130.1 billion, with an annual average increase of 7.0%. The budget will be distributed between six programmes, namely, Administration, Planning, Policy and Strategy, University Education, Technical and Vocational Education and Training, Skills Development and Community Education and Training.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Honourable President, Deputy President, Cabinet Colleagues, Deputy Minister Manamela, the Chairperson and members of the Portfolio Committee for their support and guidance.

I also would like to thank the USAf, SAPCO, SAUS, SATVETSA and our trade  unions for working with us through the Ministerial Task Team to find collective solution to the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Gratitude also goes to my wife, my staff in the Ministry and to the entire Executive Management Committee and Staff of the Department, the Boards and Executives of our Entities, and everybody who contributed toward the achievement of our mandate as the department.

Thank you.



Universities are not the only solution to skilling, we need an equitable budget for TVET and CET

By Nomsa Marchesi – Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Honourable Chair,
The majority of South Africans are unable to compete or participate in our economy. They are locked into a cycle of poverty, joblessness, and inequality, which presents a threat to our democracy. If you don’t believe me, think of the looting that recently happened in KZN last year!

Our Social and Economic crisis deepens daily. At the heart of this lies a government that is completely incapable of moving us into a better future, they are sleeping on the job. The total number of employed persons is 14.3 million people (3rd Quarter 2021: StatsSA) and the total population of South Africa is 60.1 million (StatsSA: 2021). If we look at the expanded unemployment rate, 66.5% of those are young people! We are indeed in trouble!!

It is without a doubt that when the ANC introduced free fee education, they didn’t anticipate the number of students who would apply to universities; they didn’t do the headcount and take into cognizance that we are a youthful nation, and they didn’t
anticipate that both TVET and CET are not adequate and neither desirable to South Africans. Not because the idea of TVET qualification is not appealing; in fact, we all agree that we need skills. However, TVET colleges are grossly under-funded with a curriculum that does not speak to our economic needs and a lack of capacity-building initiatives required to support our lecturers, management, and practitioners within TVETs, which do remain major challenges.

Our higher education system fails to skill our people; even if they do receive training, a large number of those still cannot find work. Graduates move from one internship to the next without getting permanent employment positions! This government is failing to expand our economy!

Up skilling our youth is one of the goals of this government, but their actions do not speak to these goals.

According to the NDP, TVET colleges have been identified as essential in skilling our youth, and an NDP target has been set such that 2.5 million students should register at TVET colleges by 2030. The Department has never shown the Committee the strategic plan that will tackle the desired increase of 2 million students in the TVET system within 8 years. In the annual performance report, enrolments in TVET college programmes have decreased by 32.8% from 673 490 in 2019 to 452 227 in 2020.

However, the minuscule budget of R12 billion is a mere 11% of the Department’s budget; and if you compare it with the universities' budget of R92 billion, it is a drop in the
ocean. Not forgetting a lack of adequate infrastructure budget means this plan is just one of the ANC’s pipe dreams.

Honourable chair,

We need an equitable budget that speaks to the goals of the department, the NDP, and the aspirations of our youth!
As we speak, TVETs are not receiving the number of headcounts that is desirable because of a lack of adequate and acceptable accommodation. In Thaba Nchu, for instance, not very far from where I live, Motheo College has no acceptable accommodation for students. The neighbourhood where accommodation is allocated is not safe and it poses a threat to students!
And not forgetting the delays in certificate issuing once you complete your studies. It is utterly discouraging it perpetuates poverty and limits graduates from taking advantage of the few job opportunities out there! TVET colleges are just not attractive to South African students hence the headcount is dwindling! Plain and simple!

Honourable Chair,

Budget cuts are also not helping! Programs that talk about social cohesion and e-learning, which provide career development, have been cut by R12 million.
CET is also in a dire situation. The CET program constitutes 2% of the overall budget of DHET. Despite its critical role in supporting the development of short-term skills for out-of- school young people and adults to access the labour market,
CET relies on Basic Education to provide access to teaching and learning. During our CET summit, infrastructure was brought up as an issue of great concern over and over again. This means if there is no school in the area, CET cannot exist and, as long as there is no infrastructure budget, it will remain as such. The lack of infrastructure also deters students from enrolling. If there is no intention of providing infrastructure, a more proactive arrangement must be made, and for example, utilizing municipal and government facilities should be an option for use for CETs.

From my observation, there is also a tendency to set targets that are unattainable because of a lack of sufficient funds or even a lack of thorough thought. For instance, the target for CET to enrol students from 142 000 to 266 000 in 2022/2023 makes no sense when CET has no accommodation capacity, given the limited resources. Is it fair for officials to be expected to meet such goals when there is no budget that speaks to those targets?

In addition, Honourable Chair, I would like to bring to the attention of this House the scourge of gender-based violence in TVET colleges. It has become an epidemic, and it needs to be tackled. We need a uniform policy position on this issue across institutions.