The Committee convened with the Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, and stakeholders for a briefing on the state of readiness for the 2023 academic year. Each stakeholder presented its role as it relates to the sector, and challenges and some recommendations were made. Members were concerned about planning the 2023 academic year and identified gaps in the Department’s presentation. These were seen as gaps which may result in unrest at the beginning of the upcoming academic year. The Committee appealed to both the Department and stakeholders to close any weaknesses that might jeopardise the commencement of the academic year, indicating that the dissatisfaction of workers on issues such as salary increments had the potential to cause unrest.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme indicated an increase in the number of students who qualify for funding, in both universities and colleges, but clarified that this would be covered within the allocated budget. The issue that the entity still grappled with was the accurate projection of costs needed to fund students enrolled in TVET Colleges and it was expressed that there was a need for improvement in this regard. The entity also proposed direct payments to students to avoid the persistence of late payments by institutions, resulting in many unrests. The concern around the initiative was the ability of the entity to timeously pay students and also be able to monitor and track registered and unregistered learners. Another area the entity was encouraged to be involved in student accommodation, as it had been evident that fraudulent activity was occurring.
Universities South Africa highlighted the plight of student debt which continued to increase and threatened the functionality of institutions of higher learning. The overall debt currently stands at R16.5 billion, which is in need of a national intervention. Members raised concerns in this regard, stating that if the model used, was not changed, the debt would continue to increase and inevitably cripple the system. It was also questioned whether the amount was a true reflection of funds owed by students or whether it included interest calculated from those who have passed on.
The South African Public Colleges Organisation highlighted the constraints faced by the sector which are mainly financially focused. These issues include an increase in students entering the system, without a corresponding increase in funding, problems around infrastructure structure grants and the lack of an appropriate funding framework. The prevailing funding pressure also continues to place pressure on the personnel budget of the colleges and consequently constrains the ability to cater for operations. Another cry from these institutions was the management fee imposed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
The South African Union of Students indicated an urgency for the Portfolio Committee to sponsor a motion to Parliament on the clearance of student debts.
Manual applications in colleges were being phased out by the South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student association. However, due to ongoing power failures, this had been disrupted. The introduction of online applications created a new advanced model for students for both current and new applicants. It allowed new applicants to process their applications in their own comfort zone and apply to any college without incurring travel costs. The entity stated that applications and pre-enrolments had resumed in some colleges while others were still preparing.
As the meeting commenced, technical issues were experienced and as such, the opening remarks of the Chairperson and comments made at the beginning of the meeting were missed.
Briefing by the Department of Higher Education and Training on the readiness for the 2023 academic year
Dr Thandi Lewin, Acting Deputy Director-General: Universities, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), took the Committee through the presentation which reflected on the 2022 academic year, 2023 registration preparations and enrolment targets, student funding, the enrolment planning process and the Central Application Clearing House (CACH) for universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Community Education and Training (CET).
- The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has proposed significant issues relating to NSFAS’ mechanisms for centralising the payment of student accommodation and accreditation; capping accommodation costs to R45 000; and the proposal to implement direct payments to students from the 2023 academic year.
- NSFAS has engaged with various stakeholders including the Department of Higher Education and Training, sub-committees of Universities South Africa (USAf), the Registrar’s forum, South African Council of Principals, student organisations and HEDSA.
- A two-day workshop at the NSFAS offices in Cape Town between the Department, NSFAS and USAf was held in October 2022 to discuss the changes and policy considerations and concerns raised by the sector as the planned processes are dependent on NSFAS systems and integration with universities and TVET colleges.
- These discussions are ongoing while the policy is finalised for 2023 and NSFAS continues preparations for the 2023 administrative processes.
- The Ministerial Task Team (MTT), in their work to conceptualise a new student financial aid model for the South African higher education and training system, submitted its final report to the Minister in June 2022, and this was subsequently presented to Cabinet in September 2022.
- A key recommendation of the MTT is that as part of the long-term development of a new, comprehensive student funding policy, government should explore the establishment of a loan scheme to support “missing middle” students in accessing higher education and training.
- Given that such a loan model would take time and planning to be implemented, it was advised by the Task Team that the Department of Higher Education and Training (the Department) should explore, in the short term, the possibility of a credit guarantee model for loans for missing middle students from 2023 onwards.
- The Department is exploring the options for such a model with commercial banks and other financial service providers, before an application for a credit guarantee can be submitted to National Treasury by the Minister.
- The Department is in the process of engaging the support of a financial analyst, with actuarial experience, to support the Department through the negotiations process with banks and financial service providers from November to February 2022.
- The Department and Minister have also engaged in a comprehensive stakeholder engagement process on the recommendations of the Task Team. They will return to Cabinet with further work on international comparative information and feedback from the consultations.
[See the Department’s presentation for details]
National Student Financial Aid Scheme: 2023 readiness
Mr Andile Nongogo, Chief Executive Officer, NSFAS, gave a presentation on the 2023 academic year readiness of the entity. The presentation touched on budget availability and cashflow projections, 2023 applications, funding guidelines, systematic issues, status of readiness of new initiatives, direct payments and 2022 appeals.
NSFAS projected a 7% increase in the number of students qualifying for bursaries.
Figures for the current year, used as a baseline, have not yet been audited and these may change and the increased number will be accommodated with the allocated budget.
It was projected that 337 224 students will qualify for TVET Bursaries in 2023 compared to 227 110 funded in 2022. This is a projected 48% increase in qualifying students, resulting in a budget shortfall of R1.9 billion in the TVET sector. This will, however, be covered in the previous year’s savings.
There is a need for proper demand-led planning to enable the accurate projection of costs for TVET Colleges.
In terms of the budget projections for the 2023 academic year, based on the projected figures for universities, NSFAS will require R3.5 billion to cover the beginning-of-year allowances for three months (February to April 2023); this includes allowances for medical students that should be paid in January.
For TVET Colleges - TVET projections include tuition and allowances and colleges require upfront tuition for cash flow purposes at the beginning of the year. The amount required in December for TVETs is R1.9 billion and R 5,445,709,305 is required at least by December 2022/January 2023 to enable the disbursement to be affected at the start of the academic year. NSFAS has identified other funder resources that can be utilised and reimbursed at a later stage.
[See presentation for details]
Universities South Africa: preparations for 2023 academic year
Dr Phethiwe Matutu, Chief Executive Officer, Universities South Africa (USAf), took Members through the presentation which covered enrollment at universities for 2023, student funding, student debt, modes of teaching and learning, student accommodation and long-term and short-term sustainability.
She stated that concerning student debt, the extent threatens the future sustainability of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). The current student debt is at about R16.5 billion and needs a national solution. The cost of debt is about R1.5 billion per annum which could be directed towards infrastructure development and/or growing the academic system. It is also the source of student anguish and upheaval at the beginning of each year.
[See presentation for details]
South African Public Colleges Organisation
Dr Marianna Phutsisi, President, South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO), presented on the college readiness per province.
The TVET sector is, in general, constrained due to the following:
Colleges largely provide for students from poor families
The infrastructure structure grant is tied up in the Department
There is an increased demand for access in the TVET sector which is not reciprocated by increased funding
Lack of the appropriate funding framework for TVET colleges
The prevailing funding pressure continues to place pressure on the personnel budget of the colleges and consequently constrains the ability of colleges to cater for college operations. There were notable challenges experienced due to underfunding, mode of learning, and adjusting to COVID-19 requirements in the previous years. The NSFAS management fee is still posing a challenge to the effective execution of duties by colleges. Insufficient funding allocation is a major challenge, particularly for financially needy and academically deserving students. Delays in disbursements have also caused student unrest in most colleges.
[See presentation for details]
South African Union of Students: Preparedness for 2023 Academic Year
Mr Lukhanyo Daweti, Secretary General, South African Union of Students (SAUS), gave a presentation with proposals made by the SAUS for the 2023 academic year. He stated that there is an urgent need for the Portfolio Committee to sponsor a motion to Parliament on the R41 billion clearance of student debts. He added that the DHET and NSFAS needed to ensure that the issue of the 2023 budget allocation is resolved before the end of the 2022 academic year. The DHET also needs to expedite the intervention of funding missing middle students. He said NSFAS speedily resolves matters of appeals, learning devices for First Time Entrant (FTEN) students and allowances but continuous stakeholder engagements are encouraged.
[See presentation for details]
South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student Association
Mr Siphiwe Khumalo, President, South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student Association (SATVETSA), said TVET colleges have, over the years, been subjected to manual applications and enrolments. This, however, did not allow students to be able to apply prior to their academic year of study and the old traditional model created challenges for prospectus students to apply to colleges outside of their city or province.
He stated that the introduction of online applications created a new advanced model for students for both current and new applicants. It allowed new applicants to process their applications in their own comfort zone and apply to any college without incurring travelling costs. The organisation recommended that the Department lessens the paperwork students were usually subjected to, reduce the queues that usually occur during enrolments, allow current students to roll over and be pre-enrolled while still at home, and allow students to upload their documents with ease.
Regarding readiness, he said that applications and pre-enrolments had resumed in some colleges while others were still preparing and new students were being assisted with their NSFAS application as they came to write their placement tests. He stated that as an organisation, they predict there would be challenges with current students whose statuses had not been resolved. Due to the student debt, this would likely result in challenges during the registration period. He added that the continuation of the DHET bursary rules and guidelines remained unchanged, although it has caused a series of problems during the current academic year.
[See presentation for details]
Ms N Tarabella-Marchesi (DA) said that the TVET College branch was not adequately funded and students could not be encouraged to choose colleges over universities while they remain unfunded.
[Most of the Member’s comments could not be captured because of technical issues with the recording]
Dr W Boshoff (FF Plus) wanted to know from DHET the status of Mr Madalane, principal of Northern Cape Urban College, who had been found guilty of contempt of court. He explained that the official had been suspended and charged a fine, but now he has been promoted to the regional director/manager position for the Northern and Western Cape. He expressed that he could not understand how a person with such cases against him could be promoted. He added that Mr Madalane commuted daily between Bloemfontein and Kimberly while living in Cape Town and at the same time being a principal of a college. He added that it was not possible for anyone to act out such functions and still occupy a demanding position in two colleges.
Mr S Zondo (IFP) said that there was a student strike at Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) at the beginning of the year, where a security room had been burnt down and in the space of a month, students had been suspended. He said that some of these were student leaders from the Student Representative Council (SRC) and there were no investigations pertaining to the allegations against them. He asked how they could be found guilty without evidence and added that it was a known fact that students cannot afford to waste an academic year.
He said that in the previous year, students who resided in an external residence had been raped outside the gate of the University of Zululand and added that the security and conditions of the residence did not match guidelines as stated by NSFAS. He expressed that the students were not living under conducive conditions, particularly female students. He said he had followed up on the matter and had been met with much resistance from the institution.
He stated that the institution would conduct SRC elections on 1 December 2022, but he received information from officials that SRC students were being victimised and could not campaign within the school. He said that the Chairperson may be privy to the response of the vice-chancellor, which did not bring confidence that management was dealing with the matter. He added that things were good on paper but not in implementation.
He supported the initiative that NSFAS would pay students directly as this would eliminate late payments of allowances by institutions. He inquired about how the organisation would manage delays to avoid protests.
Ms D Sibiya (ANC) indicated that targets had not been met by the CET programme and inquired about the reasons for such and whether there were plans for mitigations. She highlighted that although the budget was limited, it did not mean that things should be left undone.
She said that the USAf and SAUS were constantly lamenting about funding for the missing middle students and asked how the matter would be resolved, as it has been repeatedly brought up. She said that the recommendations from SAUS were clear but nothing has yet been done.
She indicated that the victimisation of student leadership was a matter highlighted across the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector, and asked who was responsible for such actions.
Ms C King (DA) said Walter Sisulu University and some other institutions have had challenges with the accreditation of certain courses and asked the Department if the matter had been resolved. She added that the outcome of the meeting on 8 December would pave the way for the next meeting to discuss the integration between the Department, NSFAS and USAf.
She highlighted that during her tenure in Basic Education, the concern was that when Funza Lushaka bursaries were processed to fund students, there was misalignment regarding what teachers had to teach. It happened that an individual would teach business studies whereas they were qualified to teach history.
She asked for a breakdown of the 2022 CACH applications and the number of students who had applied and those who had been assisted.
She highlighted that there had been instances of loadshedding and water shortages, especially in Nelson Mandela Bay and the former Transkei areas. She inquired about how TVET colleges were equipped to deal with such situations and whether generators and water tankers were available at accommodation facilities. She added that students complained to the Portfolio Committee about their inability to be online during exams due to loadshedding.
On NSFAS, she expressed that she was excited when the entity mentioned plans for direct payments to students but voiced her concerns about the companies being used, and asked which companies these were. She also raised the same concern with USAf and asked about the feasibility of such a payment method. She highlighted that there has been an increase in alcohol use within institutions and asked how this would be monitored to ensure that students do not misuse the funds allocated to them.
She appealed for the guideline to be released on 8 December, stating that students had been angered in the previous year due to courses not being accredited and the fact having been communicated late.
She said that there were still discussions at the Cabinet level around the Ministerial Task Team (MTT) report and that discussing the matter of the missing middle students would be void and there would not be meaningful input from Members.
With regards to NSFAS planning to introduce accreditation of accommodation facilities, she asked if there were legislative changes that would need to be made for the organisation to have such a mandate as the scheme had been disclaimed by the Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) because it was not mandated legislatively.
She asked for a breakdown of the R16.5 billion student debt per institution.
She indicated that the Minister of Health, in July, had indicated that the department would collaborate with DHET and NSFAS on funding for medical students in Cuba. She asked whether this has been put into effect, the basis of the funding and how this might have a bearing on the funding shortfall when SASSA students are added. She said that it was evident that there would be a supply and demand issue as this was an already persisting matter in institutions.
Mr T Letsie (ANC) indicated that according to the current year’s budget projections by NSFAS, it stood at R45 million and for the 2024/25 academic year, the projections were up to R51 million. He said that government was prioritising R51 billion for higher education although there are other funding programmes and institutions such as the National Research Foundation (NRF). He suggested that the DHET and Basic Education package the amount to be allocated to the budget for education so that when the SAUS presents on free education before the Committee, Members can ask the necessary questions.
He said that the Department and NSFAS, when compiling guidelines, should ensure that the issue of the N+2 rule is fixed as the interpretation did not make sense. He made an example to elaborate his point that if a student went to university in 2010 for a year and then decided to drop out and a few years later decided to enrol again, that student would be refused funding as the system would identify the number of years that had passed as the number of years which the student had enrolled for. He added that this seemed like a mechanism to exclude people with mental health issues. He further added that if a female student has experienced attempted rape and decides to change institutions after a year, they would be excluded because of the N+2 rule.
He stated that NSFAS pays between R13 billion to R16 billion in student accommodation. It was naïve for anyone to suggest that the entity could not play a part in the issues surrounding such and pointed out that a number of institutions had been enriching themselves through student accommodation. He highlighted that there was a lot of corruption taking place as employees in institutions of learning were using state money for their own benefit. He said there were two reported cases in the Vaal University of Technology where a cartel was fighting over the issue of funding for students and exposed the misconduct surrounding student accommodation funds. He said that in the reports received, it was claimed that houses which belonged to individuals had been listed under student accommodation providers and added that such reports needed to be studied as it may be that the money that went into such fraudulent activities could have been used to pay off student debts. He emphasised that it made no sense that NSFAS does not intervene in such issues. He added that institutions need to consider performing lifestyle audits on employees responsible for student accommodation and other functions which involve money.
He stated that the DDG mentioned that the Department prepares for the academic year at the beginning of each year, and highlighted that from the presentation given, together with other stakeholders, one could determine the preparations were just a mirage. He said that the presentation had blind spots and did not mention one of the most contributing factors to the instability at the beginning of the year. He indicated that before the close of the year, the Committee needs to request Parliament initiate Committee engagements early to determine the Department's preparedness. He added that engagements could also be held before the start of the following academic year to deliberate and engage with the Department. The South African Police Service (SAPS) would also need to be involved in such engagements as they are called whenever there are threats to infrastructure. He suggested a planning meeting with all stakeholders as he anticipates that there might be protests at the beginning of the academic year because of the blind spots he picked up from the presentations. He also noted several institutions where the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) would have an issue.
He inquired from USAf about where the stated R16.5 billion came from, and whether it had been audited, as it had been R11 billion in 2019. He added that the amount had increased by R5 billion in less than five years and indicated that he did not believe this was a true reflection, as interest may also be charged to people who may have passed away. He said that the entity needed to do a proper and thorough audit of the student debt as it would not be addressed in the current state of things. He added that students who owed institutions and could not pay should still be given their statement of results to apply for jobs. The institutions should intervene by providing certificates to employers directly and arranging for a garnishee order until the student debt has been paid. He said the current method was not working and the student debt would soon reach R100 billion.
He mentioned that the Department had furnished enrolment plans for the following year but these were for undergraduate students and asked whether these plans were only for undergraduates.
He agreed with the issues raised by SAUS but not the assertion that there should not be fee increments in universities, as this directly means that these institutions would not survive. He said that employees also expect salary increments annually and other operational costs also increase yearly. He added that increments could not only be supported when they benefit only those in support but there needs to be an understanding that such is necessary to keep the lights on in institutions. He advised that discussions amongst stakeholders should take place to look into reasonable increments.
He highlighted that when the Department presented, there was an indication of an incident where student accommodation providers wanted to increase fees halfway through the year. At the University of North West, poor students were systematically excluded from university-owned and privately owned residences. He added that a number of students were in debt and many in Potchefstroom had left residences and resorted to staying in bedrooms of people’s houses.
He stated the direct deposit initiative by NSFAS had been announced in 2019. He said that at the beginning of 2020, there was a strike in Tshwane North TVET College and South College where NSFAS was confronted because some learners who appeared on television stated that they had to resort to prostitution as the institutions were not paying allowances timeously. The organisation was requested to take over payments and they were able to do so. He added that the issue might be that the organisation will not be able to monitor whether students are still active or have dropped out and would likely end up paying students who are at home. He said systems needed to be established to monitor registered and non-registered students.
Mr Letsie indicated that the rest of his questions would be sent via e-mail.
Ms J Mananiso (ANC) said she had a serious problem with the Department’s presentation on issues of private accommodation as there is no strong monitoring system in place to track where the funds go. She said that if such matters continue to happen without any consequence, they would continue to reoccur. She suggested that the entity hosts a summit on student accommodation and invite all stakeholders in the sector. She stated that everyone should take ownership because the problems were the same but the responses differed. She added that speaking about responsive solutions with one voice was important.
She also asked for a detailed breakdown of the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE) pilot system because the numbers would inform whether the system is a need or not.
Regarding online applications, she added that walk-ins should be emphasised and encouraged because loadshedding is a constant occurrence and some areas do not have connectivity. She clarified that both systems should be used.
Regarding TVET Colleges, she asked if there was still a certification backlog and requested a report on the anticipated vacancies in the Department.
She highlighted that underfunding CET Colleges is a serious cry, and perhaps it stems from the lack of an integrated system of stakeholders who need to play a part. She asked for a report on CET colleges where higher health is involved and civic education has taken place. She added that she was pleased with some of the responses regarding this but expressed that there were individuals who seemed reluctant. She said that people did not comply and the matter was not being taken seriously. She said it was clear that SAUS was trying to lead and it needed to be determined how best to adhere to its recommendations.
She highlighted that the TVET subsidy budget had decreased and it seemed that the National Development Plan (NDP) targets were not going to be achieved. She asked where TVET college lectures trained for robotics, how many colleges were prepared for the upcoming year and whether there were mitigation plans to ensure no student is left behind. She advised that colleges and universities check with the previous education MEC in Gauteng, Mr Panyaza Lusufi, so that people apply to study close to where they live.
She asked what the role of the Sector Training and Education Authority (SETA) was in funding South Africans that are 35 years and above.
Ms D Mahlatsi (ANC) expressed she was pleased with the presentation given by the Department because slide one to seven provided a list of challenges in the current academic year and how some had been resolved, but slide 14 was problematic with regards to enrolment targets. She said that these were low and created a negative impact on the NDP targets. On the categories for enrolment, she asked what the category indicated on scarce skills and how these skills are prioritised.
She asked why the CACHE system was planned to run only in 2023 when students can still apply in December. She said that it was meant for those who may have been rejected for admission but results of such are only made available by the end of September, October and November. She asked why the system was running from 25 January 2023, as this is an issue that creates further challenges in the sector.
She asked how the issue of bogus institutions would be dealt with as this should be taken up by all the stakeholders, but is only left to the Department to deal with.
She indicated that when Members visited NSFAS three weeks prior the sitting, the application system was not working as expected and she asked about the status of the matter.
She highlighted that in the presentation given, it was indicated that 17 000 appeals had been rejected and asked the main reasons for this. She asked when the close-out project would be done.
Addressing the issue of student accommodation, she said that there needs to be a consideration for assisting black people who want to participate in the economy through property management, as property management is highly monopolised by those with money. She added that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) who want to participate are unable to because they do not have the money. This was why the Department needed to play a fundamental role in assisting such businesses.
She mentioned that through the COVID-19 pandemic, institutions had moved towards blended learning which, to a large extent, allows for more students to be accommodated but in most institutions, the numbers are going down. She highlighted that some institutions were unwilling to return to physical teaching and learning and asked why this was. Given that there has been a move towards blended teaching and learning, she inquired on whether institutions were able to save, and what the plans were in building capacity seeing that the research capacity was low.
She asked what USAf’s reaction was regarding the mismanagement of NSFAS resources by institutions.
She said the Committee had a conversation with Buffalo City TVET College and Motheo TVET Colleges the previous week. The issue voiced out was around the workers’ forum. She expressed that the drama which ensued would have shocked the Department and if matters were not dealt with, strikes were eminent in the upcoming academic year. She added that there was no synergy in operations across the sector.
The Chairperson said that it seemed as though there was a shared understanding of the challenges in the sector which continue to persist. She stated that NSFAS and institutions needed to find common ground and vice chancellors also needed to see the SRC as a co-governance structure in institutions. She said that SATVETSA needed to request SRCs to send programmes of action in preparation for the 2023 academic year. The role of the SRC at the beginning of the year is to assist students and representatives need to be proactive in this role and not reactive. She stated they had to ensure that information is proactively disseminated to students to ensure that whatever management and council agree on, students are made aware of decisions taken. She expressed that SRCs needed to put together solid programmes of action and creatively develop programmes to assist students, sit with management on the plans for the coming academic year, and strategise on how best to perform their roles.
She said that it was important for the Department to communicate good things happening in the lead-up to 2023 and that the CACH system, its role and the curriculum review, which has been an ongoing process, had to be communicated properly. She added that this also motivates young people to apply for private TVET college versus public TVET college. She stated that curriculum reviews should be communicated properly regarding how they respond to economic demands.
She said that the largest pool of student applications for NSFAS came from KwaZulu-Natal and highlighted that this was an important study for the Department that needed to be consolidated with the enrolment numbers.
The Chairperson indicated that the issue around transaction fees needed to be clarified and suggested that an infographic be compiled to detail transaction fees.
She stated that the issue of allowance payments not being paid timeously still persists and that it needed to be fixed and asked when the current chat box would expire. She asked whether NSFAS considered holding an Imbizo where all the principals, CFOs and deputies line up to go over issues faced by each institution in aims to deal with such. She added that the back and forth in the Portfolio Committee between the stakeholders did not make any impact.
She indicated that the Department responds very slowly to issues raised by the Committee and if such continues to persist, Members are then forced to step in. She explained that the Department had not responded to issues occurring at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). If these are not resolved, then students would view the current elected SRC as illegitimate. She said that the elections were conducted during exams and the current position of the SRC did not believe in the process that took place which may result in multiple SRCs which may lead to unnecessary noise on campus at the beginning of the academic year. She added that the institution needed to be under the Department’s radar as a hotspot in terms of instability at the beginning of the year.
Regarding the CACH system, she asked whether the response from institutions was quick enough and added that her experience with the system has not been good.
On the NRF funding, she asked if there has been an increase for postgraduates.
She stated that Members raised concerns about university governance structures and how vice-chancellors and senior management interact with stakeholders as they completely fail to appreciate cooperative governance between workers and students. However, she added that they do well at the Portfolio Committee level, yet it is a representation of communities. She said that there was a need to appreciate the value that comes from proper stakeholder relations.
She inquired about when the MTT report would be released.
The Chairperson asked for additional comments and questions to be put in writing. She added that Committee Members would have preferred for both SATVETSA and SAUS to consolidate their programmes in contributing to the start of the academic year. She indicated that all responses are required to be submitted within seven working days from the day of the sitting.
SA Union of Students
Mr Daweti said that the SAUS’s presentation was deliberately silent on the matter of direct payments by NSFAS and student accommodation issues. He stated that the direction the sector was taking, particularly the initiatives by NSFAS, were resolutions taken in one of the general councils. He added that the organisation was pleased that such resolutions were becoming a reality and urged USAf to cooperate and work with students on the matter. He explained that students were not concerned with the balance sheets of the university, but were more interested in solutions put in place for teaching and learning.
SA Public Colleges Organisation
Dr Phutsisi thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present and noted all concerns raised by Members. She said that the issue of relations between management and stakeholders at colleges had been noted with serious attention.
She stated that as SAPCO administers online applications, if it were not for loadshedding, the preference would not be to administer walk-ins in the upcoming academic year. However, due to the pending circumstances, walk-ins would be welcomed. She indicated that approximately 18 colleges were using the central administration system administered by the Department and more were moving towards the change.
Dr Matutu said all areas that had been raised would be responded to in writing and she appreciated the convergence of the issues in the sector.
Mr Nongogo appreciated the comments, input and recommendations related to the direct payments, student accommodation and stabilisation of the system. He added that the entity would further engage stakeholders to deal with the issues raised and that the Imbizo idea could work and would probably last a month.
Ms Thembisa Futshane, Deputy Director-General: Community Education and Training, welcomed the questions and comments raised and stated that the many issues the Department missed had been noted. She added that this gave them time to close the gaps and responses would be sent through within seven days.
She said it was a great opportunity to reconvene in January and highlight the identified gaps. She expressed that the state of readiness for the 2023 academic year needed to be broad and beyond a specific year and that the Department would adopt this principle.
She indicated that the potential labour unrest was also noted and explained that the entity tends to focus more on the students and, to a great extent, might have left out the disgruntlement from employees in the sector.
The meeting was adjourned.
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