National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill, Higher Education Amendment Bill: hearings

Basic Education

25 October 1999
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
26 October 1999
HEARINGS OF EVIDENCE ON THE NATIONAL STUDENT FINANCIAL AID SCHEME BILL AND THE HIGHER EDUCATION AMENDMENT BILL

Documents handed out:
TEFSA Submission & 1998 Annual Report 1998
SAUVCA Submission
National Research Foundation Submission
NEHAWU Submission
South African Federal Council on Disability Submission
South African Student Congress Submission
Committee of Technikon Principals Submission
Azanian Student Council submission
Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (South African Teachers' Union) submission
South African Qualification Authority submission
Bursary Council of South Africa submission
Foundation for Education, Science and Technology submission
South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) submission
[e-mail info@pmg.org.za for the documents]

SUMMARY
Oral submissions on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill and Higher Education Amendment Bill were heard. There was very little serious criticism of either bills in their present form, though both SADTU and NEHAWU are anxious to have centralised collective bargaining included in the Higher Education Amendment Bill. Informal debate was planned for the next day.

MINUTES
Tertiary Education Fund of South Africa (TEFSA)
Mr R Jackson, CEO of TEFSA, gave a short history of the organisation which started in 1991, with R25 million for poor black and able students' loans, and now in 1999 it handles R450 million. Loan recovery is most important, because money can be recycled, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill allows for this recovery, now enabling employers to deduct from salaries. However, there are problems. Some graduates do not get jobs, are self-employed, or it is difficult to track them down. Recovery can also be done in co-operation with the Receiver of Revenue. Approximately 71% of loans have been recovered. His concerns are that there should be more representivity on the Board, those who contribute to the fund should have tax breaks, and their name, TEFSA, should not be changed as it is now well known.

The South African University Vice Chancellors Association (SAUVCA)
Mr H Amoore, Registrar of the University of Cape Town, believed that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill should have gone further. This included that universities' own loan schemes come under the ambit of the Act and loans should be administered by the institution itself with the Board using its powers to recover such money. On the Higher Education Amendment Bill, fees should be the same for SADC students, but higher for other international students; also loans should be extended to fees other than just tuition.

South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
On the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill, Mr T Nxesi, President of SADTU, believed that loans must be stakeholder driven, otherwise technocrats run everything. He also did not want foreign students from Africa to be discriminated against. Regarding the Higher Education Amendment Bill, which he approved of, he would prefer to use the word, `international' rather than `foreign' students. His main point however was that there should be centralised collective bargaining to make transformation possible.

Foundation for Education, Science and Technology
The presenter described the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill as a "time bomb". The implication seemed to be that if a large amount of money is invested in the humanities, especially in sociology, and those graduates seldom get jobs, then it is a financial disaster. TEFSA should direct funds in line with the needs of the market or employment, and thus the growth of the economy. He also recommends that higher education institutions administer loans.

National Research Foundation (NRF)
The NRF wanted the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill to be explicit that appropriate financial support should be provided up to, and including, at least honours or fourth year level students. Regarding the composition of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Board, NRF recommended broad disciplinary representation. Just as the Board had to be kept well informed about student aid schemes in the country, NRF recommended that, in turn, the Board keep those institutions which provide bursaries informed about their student support activities.

National Education Health & Allied Workers' Union (NEHAWU)
NEHAWU particularly welcomed the empowering of the Minister to appoint an administrator to a higher education institution where there is financial or maladministration of a serious nature. The Higher Education Amendment Bill is an attempt to standardise the governance and management structures. NEHAWU wanted the inclusion of centralised bargaining in the Bill. They also suggested that "The ability to determine national frameworks, salary scales, grading and other issues that apply uniformly in the tertiary education sector, would result in better utilitation of resources".

Bursary Council of South Africa
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill was welcomed as it is targetted and focussed, especially for rural poor, where there is a real need. The Council expressed its desire to continue working with TEFSA

National Youth Commission (NYC)
The NYC believed that the Senate of a tertiary institution should be democratically elected, as should the principal. `International' students should be identified according to where they come from, "developed" or "'underdeveloped" countries. This should be determined by the GDP.
They also objected strongly to "MacDonald" degrees - you pay your money and get instant degrees.

Regarding the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill, the NYC recommended community service if loans cannot be repaid, particularly if unemployed.

South African Federal Council on Disability
There are very few disabled students in higher education, mainly because they are not catered for. This Council would like to see funds of TEFSA in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill committed to helping such students, not only for fees, but for braille, facilities for deaf, etc.

South African Students Congress (SASCO)
On the subject of student loans, SASCO wanted to avoid the criminalising of students who do not repay loans.

South African Qualification Authority (SAQA)
The SAQA basically approved all amendments in the Higher Education Amendment Bill.

Committee of Technical Principals
They supported most sections of the Higher Education Amendment Bill, besides Section 6 as it undermined the balance between authority and accountability in any institution. They are critical of the Section which deals with the powers of the Minister as these are already covered in existing legislation.

Suid Afrikaanse Onderwysunie (SAOU)
The SAOU supports the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Bill. However they object to the definition of employers, which is too wide. They said that the job of collecting loans, or deducting them may be onerous. This organisation is not in favour of bursaries, though this word is not used in the legislation, in the latter half. They also wonder if the contract is binding if a loan is given to an under-age student. There is also a need to know that a student is getting a bursary from another organisation.

Azanian Student Council (AZASCO)
AZASCO had minor disagreements with both Bills

There were few comments and questions raised by the committee.

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