Committee reports

Higher Education, Science and Technology

31 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr C Kekana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The meeting began with the Members proposing several stylistic suggestions and pointing out multiple grammatical errors within the content of the report. Cognisant of time, it was suggested that there should be a Parliamentary unit established for the primary mandate of proofreading and editing the reports after they have been considered and adopted in Portfolio Committee meetings. It should not be the responsibility of Members and the support staff.

The Chairperson agreed and stated that he would endorse this proposal at a meeting with the Rules Committee.

Some of the Members remained concerned about the partial leadership instability at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), but majority felt that there was no a drastic instability at the institution because if there were acting personnel it meant that work was being done, albeit it may not be to the full satisfaction of the Committee.

The Members confirmed that the disparities in the conditions of service of insourced employees at CPUT were indeed noted. However, the harmonisation of conditions of employment since the merger of the university are needed.

The report on the oversight visit to CPUT was adopted subject to amendments.

There were no comments, suggestions nor objections by the Members on the report for the Commission for Gender Equality meeting concerning gender transformation at tertiary institutions.

The report on the meeting with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) was also adopted subject to stylistic and grammatical amendments.

The Members proposed that the report on the meeting with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) should be clearly dated. They pointed out that it noted the resignation of the board but not the two engagements that the Committee had with the administrator a week after his appointment. Thereafter, the report was adopted, subject to amendments.

Several outstanding meeting minutes were then considered and adopted, some with amendments. The most notable one was that of the Annual Report of the DBE. One of the Members reported that a colleague of hers, serving in the Basic Education Committee told her that their Committee had discussed this matter in a meeting held a week ago, and they had expected the Higher Education Committee to attend the meeting. This was hindered by a prior commitment. Another joint meeting had to be scheduled.

Meeting report

Consideration and adoption of the oversight visit to the Cape Peninsula University of Technology
Dr B Bozzoli (DA) suggested that the report also include the fact that an Acting Vice-Chancellor (VC) had been appointed, helping to alleviate the leadership vacuum that was being experienced by the institution. She then proposed several stylistic suggestions and pointed out multiple grammatical errors within the content of the report.

Ms J Killian (ANC) reckoned that there should be a Parliamentary unit established for the primary mandate of proofreading and editing the reports after they have been considered and adopted in Portfolio Committee meetings. It should not be the responsibility of Members and the support staff.

The Chairperson agreed and stated that he would endorse this proposal at a meeting with the Rules Committee.

Dr Bozzoli pointed out that earlier in the meeting minutes the Chairperson of the Council had misled the Committee by assuring them that there was no senior and mid-level management instability at CPUT because only the VC had resigned. However, most of the management personnel were holding office for the interim and therefore there was instability. She expressed that this raises a great deal of concern.

Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) accentuated Dr Bozzoli’s views, stating that what was even more concerning was the Council denying and not acknowledging that there was a level of leadership instability.

Ms Killian said that functioning in an acting position is challenging and thus despite the Council’s reassurance, the Committee remained concerned about the probable leadership instability at CPUT.

Ms S Mchunu (ANC) differed by stating that there was no total instability at the institution because if there were acting personnel it meant that work was being done, albeit it may not have been to the full satisfaction of the Committee.

Dr Bozzoli continued to make stylistic and grammatical suggestions, but Ms Mchunu objected and stated that sometimes it is a matter of personal preference – how one would like some parts of the report to be written.

The Chairperson ruled that the stylistic and grammatical suggestions cannot be subjective but there should be a standard that is consistently adhered to.

Dr Bozzoli confirmed that the disparities in the conditions of service of insourced employees were indeed noted with concern by the Committee. However, the harmonisation of conditions of employment since the merger of the university are needed.

Ms Killian proposed adoption subject to amendments, and Mr van der Westhuizen seconded the motion.

The Chairperson declared the report adopted by the Committee.

Consideration and adoption of the report on meeting with the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE) concerning gender transformation in tertiary institutions
There were no comments, suggestions nor objections to this report.

The Chairperson proposed adoption and Ms B Ndlovu (ANC) seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of the First Quarter report by the Department of Basic Education
Dr Bozzoli mentioned that she would submit her stylistic and grammatical suggestions.

Ms Mchunu proposed adoption and Ms Killian seconded.

The Chairperson declared the report formally adopted.

Consideration and adoption of the report of the meeting with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)
Ms Killian suggested that in the light of the fact that the meetings occurred over an extended period, that on the first page before the words “regarding the payment allocations to students at universities”, they should include the words “From February to August 2018” because the Committee had been handling the matter before it escalated to the Minister’s office. This would also indicate that the Committee had been working steadily and consistently without losing focus on the issue.

Ms Killian proposed that the report should rather state that “NSFAS would make bursaries available to students from poor and working-class families with a gross annual income of R350 000” instead of limiting the statement to only indicating the government’s policy shift to implement free higher education.

Mr van der Westhuizen expressed that the free higher education policy should no longer be considered new because it had been two years since it was announced in 2016.

The Chairperson differed and reckoned that the policy was still being regarded as new because it was still in the formulation stage - some students are still familiarising themselves with it, and some universities are also still trying to implement structures to adopt it.

Ms Mchunu said that NSFAS still referred to the policy as the new student-centred model because it was a pilot project and had not been expanded to other institutions.

Ms Killian made a stylistic recommendation. She said the report should state that “the universities received one upfront payment in January for each of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 academic years”. All Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges received their upfront payments in January 2016. For the 2017 academic year, 26.9% of the colleges received their upfront payment in January, and 71.1% of the TVETs received payments in April. For the 2018 academic year, all colleges received upfront payments in January 2018.

Mr van der Westhuizen proposed that the report should be clearly dated. He pointed out that it noted the resignation of the board, but not the two engagements that the Committee had with the administrator a week after his appointment. The dates between these events were not specified.

Ms Killian proposed adoption of the report, and Dr Bozzoli seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 23 May 2018 – SETA and Umalusi
Dr Bozzoli proposed adoption of the minutes, and Mr van der Westhuizen seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 30 May 2018 – NSAFAS
Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms N Nolutshungu (EFF) seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 14 August 2018 – CGE
Dr Bozzoli pointed out that for such a specific meeting there were still some outstanding matters that arose.

Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms Mchunu seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 15 August 2018 – First Quarter report by the Department
Ms Mchunu proposed adoption of the minutes, and Dr Bozzoli seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 16 August 2018 – NSFAS
Ms Killian recalled that the NSFAS were requested to submit a response to the different stakeholder concerns, but they had only submitted responses to the Committee’s concerns. She added that it may not be advisable to overload the new administrator because he was addressing other matters as well. She thus recommended that the Committee should show understanding of the amount of pressure the administrator was working under, in relieving him of this responsibility. The NSFAS could be requested to just submit a progress report on how they have addressed the concerns.

Mr van der Westhuizen proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms Mchunu seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 22 August 2018 – National Plan for Post-school Education and Training
Ms Killian said that the Committee has resolved to confer with the Portfolio Committee on Police and Justice respectively regarding the way forward in dealing with the Acts criminality in the Higher Education and Training sector as well as the aggression of business people.

Ms Killian added that the most common problems discovered during the institution oversight visits were related to student funding issues. She requested that the Committee should ask the Department for an update on this matter to ensure that they take active steps in resolving them.

Dr Bozzoli proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms Mchunu seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 29 August 2018
Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Dr Bozzoli seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 12 September 2018 – NSFAS
Dr Bozzoli confirmed that the Committee had received the findings of the legal advisor on the submissions from different stakeholders.

Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Mr van der Westhuizen seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 9 October 2018 – Auditor-General
Ms Killian indicated that the Auditor-General has submitted the requested comprehensive written response to the questions from Members. Another resolve was to take action against former employees of the NSFAS who were implicated in irregularities as per the law. She suggested that the administrator should provide a progress report on this matter in the next meeting.

Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms Mchunu seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 9 October 2018 – Annual Report of the Department of Basic Education
Ms Killian indicated that the Committee still had to meet with the Department to discuss the important matter of Maths and Science teaching in primary and secondary schools.

Dr Bozzoli reported that a colleague of hers serving in the Basic Education Committee told her that their Committee had discussed this matter in a meeting held a week ago, and they had expected the Higher Education Committee to attend the meeting. The Committee was unable to attend because of a prior commitment. She added that another joint meeting had to be scheduled because of this.

Ms Killian highlighted the importance of the meeting with the Basic Education Committee in emphasising the critical need for them to continue encouraging schools about the value of maths and science. She added that there was a desperate need for such skills in the country, partly for attracting international investments, which would also help the development of the country.

Ms Killian proposed adoption of the minutes, and Mr van der Westhuizen seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 10 October 2018
Mr van der Westhuizen proposed adoption of the minutes, and Ms Killian seconded the motion.

Consideration and adoption of minutes of 17 October 2018
Ms Mchunu proposed adoption of the minutes, and Mr van der Westhuizen seconded the motion.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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