Higher Education Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report

Higher Education and Training

17 October 2018
Chairperson: Ms C September (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Higher Education BRRR available once published: 2018 Budget Review & Recommendations Reports – BRRR

The Committee considered two Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRRs). These were the draft report of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, and the report with specific reference to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO)..

Most of the discussion was centred on ensuring that the wording of the reports was fully understandable for the reader. Members discussed the way the data was captured and how it could be clearer. The Committee sought confirmation that all the information included in the tables of the report was accurate as possible.

Where there were conflicts among the Committee with regard to how the report should be amended, the Chairperson assured Members an alternative would be found which pleased both parties.

The Committee adopted both reports with no objections.

Meeting report

Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training: Draft BRRR

The Chairperson said that the Committee would consider two Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports (BRRRs).

Mr A van der Westerhuizen (DA) referred to page three. He was concerned about not qualifying the phrase “free education,” and recommended that it be changed to “free education for the poor.” He also sought clarification of what the term “missing middle” meant. However, no further recommendations were made on this page.

Dr B Bozzoli (DA) referred to pages four and six, and noted a few small grammatical errors and missing articles. She also asked if table 4 on page 11 included sector education and training authorities (SETAs), because this would be less ambiguous, and the table should include SETAs. She recommended that numerical figures should include the use of commas and not points, as it led to confusion later on in the report.

The Chairperson said that with regards to the way in which data was captured, this was something that needed to be brought to the attention of National Treasury, as this had led to a mistake last year as well.

Ms J Kilian (ANC) said she did not agree with Dr Bozzoli on the inclusion of SETAs in the table. She felt that the way in which data was captured should be consistent with previous years in order to avoid confusion, and suggested adding certain words in the document which would avoid any confusion caused in reading the numerical figures.

Dr Bozzoli referred to page 31, and said she would like to change paragraphs 541 and 546

Mr M Wolmarans (ANC) said he did not agree with this, because it would affect what the duties of the Committee were should they be read in that sense, and this was not the intended interpretation.

Dr Bozzoli responded that the intention behind the recommendation was to show that the Committee could not be expected to single-handedly perform oversight over an entire Department with over 100 entities, without additional time and resources.

The Chairperson said that this was a different point, because some of the Committees that she had served on had many more entities to oversee compared to Higher Education. Committees had to perform a balancing act to manage their time efficiently in order to oversee all of their entities.

Mr Wolmarans said the fact that all the entities could not report was of concern to him, and the Committee was able to perform oversight in a better way

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) said that she did not think they should mix issues, and did not agree with the changing of paragraph 546.

Ms Kilian said that they should find a middle ground and merge the recommendations made by Dr Bozzoli and the concerns raised by the other Members.

The Chairperson said that an alternative amendment which pleased both parties would be made.

Dr Bozzoli agreed with the sentiments of Ms Kilian, and the Committee continued to go through the document page by page. A few more grammatical errors were noted, and clarity was sought by Members.

The report was adopted by all the Members, with no opposition.

Portfolio Committee’s BRRR with reference to NSFAS, SAQA, CHE and QCTO

The Committee consider the BRRR with reference to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and the Quality Council for Trades and Occupations (QCTO).

Ms Kilian pointed out certain parts of the report where the grammar could be improved, and where better synonyms could be used.

Dr Bozzoli said that the phrase “free education” should be qualified in order to ensure that this would be read with the understanding that it concerned the gradual implementation of free education for the poor.

The Chairperson asked if the Members agreed with the change, and there were no objections.

As the Committee went through the rest of the report, no significant recommendations were made other that grammatical errors and better usage of synonyms in order for the language of the report to be clearer.

The Members agreed with all the changes and amendments.

The report was adopted with no objections.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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