Progress on Report of National Working Group to Minister on Restructuring of Higher Education in South Africa: briefing by Minis

Basic Education

03 June 2002
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PORTFOLIO AND SELECT COMMITTEES ON EDUCATION: JOINT MEETING

PORTFOLIO AND SELECT COMMITTEES ON EDUCATION: JOINT MEETING
4 June 2002
PROGRESS WITH RECOMMENDATIONS ON REPORT OF NATIONAL WORKING GROUP TO MINISTER ON RESTRUCTURING OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN SA: BRIEFING BY MINISTER OF EDUCATION


Chairperson: Prof. Mayatula (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Statement on the Transformation and Reconstruction of the Higher Education System
The Transformation and Reconstruction of the Higher Education System
A New Institutional Landscape For Higher Education in South Africa (Appendix)

The following documents are available on
http://education.pwv.gov.za
National Plan For Higher Education
The Establishment of a National Institute for Higher Education in Mpumalanga: Report of the Working Group to the Minister of Education
The Establishment of a National Institute for Higher Education in Northern Cape: Report of the Working Group to the Minister of Education

SUMMARY
The Minister gave an outline of the process of restructuring higher education and emphasised that it was overdue and needed urgent implementation. Most of the points that he outlined were from the White Paper on Higher Education up to the National Plan for Higher Education. The discussion was on points of clarity and commending the Minister for the work that had been done thus far.

MINUTES
The Minister introduced his briefing by observing that higher education reconstruction and transformation was very symbolic to the entire transformation of our country into a democratic state. He added that the process of higher education transformation was overdue and that it had taken ten years for the process to reach this point.

The Minister outlined the events and policies leading to the National Plan for Higher Education which he described as "a last phase for a fair and equitable distribution of resources in higher education." He emphasised that the transformation was not aimed at closing historically disadvantaged institutions but that no institution will be left untouched. He explained that the transformation was aimed at an equitable and sustainable higher education system that would be line with the values enshrined in our democratic Constitution. At this stage the proposed landscape of transformation and merger of universities and technikons would lead to eleven universities, six technikons and four comprehensive institutions and two national institutes for higher education.

Discussion
A Member asked the Minister why he did not mention the Butterworth campus of the University of Transkei. The Minister explained that Butterworth and Umtata would still be sites of learning and that the interim council would decide the details and procedures.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) expressed his concern about the language issue that does not seem to be addressed when talking about mergers between institutions. He also expressed his concern about unemployed graduates and wanted to know how the proposed career focused programmes would help.

The Minister said he shared the same concern and explained that the government could not come up with detailed procedures at institutional level but that institutions would engage amongst themselves and the government to come up with practical strategies for implementation of the transformation.

A Member (NNP) wondered why the Minister did not mention the Geld Report in his briefing and the entire process of transforming higher education. The Minister explained that the consultation process had not ended but he pointed out that the Geld Report was not assimilating with the CHE's State of Higher Education in South Africa.

The same Member commented that lack of access to higher education was due to many factors that do not seem to be acknowledged in the restructuring of higher education.

The Minister agreed to that view and added that the process was not narrow minded. The working groups that were involved in the process were aware of such complexities.

Ms Mnandi (ANC) asked if the merging institutions would carry each other's burden of student debt.

Minister Asmal pointed out that there was a student debt of R800m and that no institution would carry each other's financial burden of outstanding fees. Mr Thami Mseleku: Director General, added that institutions would still be responsible for the management and collection of student debt.

Ms Mnandi (ANC) also asked if the restructuring process would effect job loses.

The Minister that there was a need for a national framework of rationalisation. He added that academic institutions in South Africa were moving towards rationalisation on their own.

Mr Kgwele (ANC) expressed his concern about high and unequal remuneration packages of university and technikon executives and asked if the transformation would adjust such disparities.

Minister Asmal explained that such matters would be resolved primarily by councils of academic institutions with relevant key players.

Mr Mpontshane (ANC) asked the Minister what he mean by "relevant university type teaching"

Rev Mogoba (PAC) noted that there was once a positive feeling about transforming higher education in South Africa and he wanted to know why there was a sudden negative feeling now.

Mr Moonsamy (ANC) asked the Minister what he meant by 'untouchables' in one of his speeches. He also commented that dead wood in academic institutions should be discarded.

The Minister said that the untouchables were well established institutions but that did not means they would be left untouched in the transformation process. He disagreed with the idea of discarding deadwood and opted for a developmental appraisal system.

Mr Ebrahim asked why the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was not merged with Peninsula Technikon (Pentech) as it was initially proposed.

The Minister explained that there had been many impressive institutional changes and positive academic developments at UWC that made it unwise to merge it with Pentech.

Mr Ntuli (ANC) expressed his concern about the plight of poor students in the light of higher education transformation. He made an example of lecturers who were always outside campuses and only reachable by cell phones whose call rates were not affordable to students.

The Minister agreed that such problems existed and that there was a need to change the institutional culture at an institutional level.

Prof Ripinga (ANC) welcomed the proposed establishment of the institutes for higher education in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape. He then asked what the way forward for the establishment of these institutes is.

The Minister explained that the document was open for public submissions before the process could be finalised.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix:

A NEW INSTITUTIONAL LANDSCAPE FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN SOUTH AFRICA
The Government's proposals would result in twenty-one higher education institutions and two National Institutes for Higher Education. This includes the proposals for institutional mergers announced in the National Plan, which are in the process of being implemented, namely:

· the merger of M L Sultan Technikon and Technikon Natal which came into effect on 1 April 2002;

· the merger of Technikon SA, the University of South Africa and the distance education campus of Vista University; and

· the incorporation of the Qwa Qwa Campus of the University of the North into the University of the Free State.


The consolidation in the number of institutions from 36 to 21 will not, however, lead to a decrease in provision, as all the existing sites of delivery would continue to operate, although in new institutional and organisational forms. The Government's proposals would result in an institutional landscape consisting of:

  • 11 Universities, 2 of which would be expected to develop career-focused technikon-type programmes to address regional needs.
  • 6 Technikons.
  • 4 Comprehensive Institutions, 3 of which would be established through the merger of a technikon and a university and 1 through the redevelopment and refocusing of an existing university.
  • 2 National Institutes for Higher Education.

The detailed proposals are as follows:

Eastern Cape

  • Port Elizabeth Technikon and the University of Port Elizabeth will be merged, with the Port Elizabeth campus of Vista University incorporated into the merged institution. It will be a comprehensive institution offering both university and technikon-type programmes.

  • Border Technikon and Eastern Cape Technikon will be merged, with two primary sites in East London and Umtata. The infrastructure of the University of Transkei will form the core of the academic activities in Umtata of the new technikon. It will also be used as a learning centre for the new dedicated distance education institution. This will ensure that there is vibrant and sustainable provision of higher education in Umtata with the focus on addressing the needs of the region, in particular, in teacher education, agriculture, rural development and tourism. The continued operation of the Butterworth campus of the Eastern Cape Technikon, will be determined by the merged technikon in consultation with the Ministry.

  • The University of Fort Hare will be retained as a separate institution, incorporating the East London campus of Rhodes University and the Medical School of the University of the Transkei, which will remain in Umtata. It will focus on expanding access in the East London area. This proposal is in line with the recent decision of the Provincial Government to designate East London as an industrial development zone.

  • Rhodes University will be retained as a separate institution.

Free State

  • Technikon Free State will be retained as a separate institution, incorporating the Welkom campus of Vista University.

  • The University of the Free State will be retained as a separate institution, incorporating the Bloemfontein campus of Vista University and the Qwa Qwa Campus of the University of the North, as previously announced in the National Plan for Higher Education.

Gauteng

  • The Rand Afrikaans University and Technikon Witwatersrand will be merged to form a comprehensive institution, incorporating the East Rand and Soweto campuses of Vista University.

  • The University of the Witwatersrand will be retained as a separate institution.

  • The University of Pretoria will be retained as a separate institution, incorporating the Mamelodi campus of Vista University.

  • Technikon Northern Gauteng, Technikon North-West and Technikon Pretoria will be merged.

  • The Vaal Triangle Technikon will be retained as a separate institution, incorporating the infrastructure and facilities of the Sebokeng campus of Vista University.

  • The students and staff of the Sebokeng campus of Vista University will be incorporated into the Vaal Triangle campus of the merged Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of the North-West.

KwaZulu-Natal

  • Mangosuthu Technikon will be merged with the new Durban Institute of Technology.

  • The Umlazi campus of the University of Zululand will be transferred to the merged technikon.

  • The University of Durban-Westville and the University of Natal (including the Pietermaritzburg campus) will be merged.

  • The University of Zululand will refocus its mission and become a comprehensive institution offering technikon-type programmes as well as a limited number of relevant university-type programmes, with its future growth linked to the Richards Bay region.


Northern Province

  • The University of the North, University of Venda and Medical University of Southern Africa will be merged. The new institution will extend the range of offerings available in the province by developing and introducing technikon-type vocational programmes and qualifications, in keeping with the needs-profile of the region.
  • The Ministry of Education will, in consultation with the merged institution, assess, investigate and make decisions on the relocation (over the medium to long-term) of Medical University of Southern Africa's programmes and infrastructure to the Northern Province.

North-West

  • The Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education and the University of the North-West will be merged.

  • The Vaal Triangle campus of Potchefstroom University will be retained as part of the merged institution, incorporating the students and staff (but not the facilities) of the Sebokeng campus of Vista University. However, in the long term consideration will be given to whether the merged institution should continue to operate a campus in the Vaal Triangle.

Western Cape

  • The University of the Western Cape will be retained as a separate institution.

  • The University of Cape Town will be retained as a separate institution.

  • The University of Stellenbosch will be retained as a separate institution.

  • The dentistry schools of the Universities of Western Cape and Stellenbosch will be merged into a single school, to be located at the University of the Western Cape.

  • The Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon will be merged.

  • The University of Cape Town and the University of Stellenbosch will discontinue offering undergraduate programmes in nursing education. These programmes should be offered by the University of the Western Cape and the merged technikon.

National Institutes for Higher Education in Mpumalanga and the Northern

Cape

  • National Institutes for Higher Education will be established in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape to serve as the administrative and governance hub for ensuring the coherent provision of higher education programmes, largely through programme collaboration between the higher education institutions currently operating in the two provinces.

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