Overview of the state of governance in the TVET sector; Northlink TVET College and Letaba TVET College on governance, administration and related matters

Higher Education, Science and Innovation

07 June 2023
Chairperson: Ms N Mkhatshwa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee received a report from the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) regarding the state of governance in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges in the country. The Department informed the Committee that there are 50 TVET colleges in the country and 48 were run by councils except for two.

The Committee also received a briefing from the management, Student Representative Council (SRC) and organised labour from Northlink and Letaba College. Each College informed the Committee of its issues, particularly around lack of infrastructure, accommodation, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The colleges also reported their audit outcomes and provided an overview of the governance and demographics.

The Committee asked to be provided with better particulars by the colleges over the issues raised. It also asked for an explanation of how councils are constituted. It also advised all stakeholders to take advantage of the third cycle of councils to remedy the issues around the demographics of the councils of TVET colleges. The Committee expressed concern over the lack of adequate student support, particularly for victims of Gender Based Violence (GBV). The Committee asked the colleges to explain why there was a backlog in certifications and the high dropout rate.

The Committee also requested responses from NSFAS and the Department in writing within 14 working days.

Meeting report

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked North Link TVET College for hosting the meeting. She welcomed the Department to make its opening remarks and deliver the presentation.

Opening Remarks by Department of Higher Education and Training

Ms Thembisa Futshane, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Community Education and Training, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), pointed out that it was auspicious that the Department was meeting with the Committee during youth month. 16 June is declared national youth day in South Africa, and 2023 marks 27 years since the 1976 uprising. This is a day that the country uses to reflect on the massacre of school children and commemorate the impact that the day brought for the liberation of South Africa.

Government departments take advantage of any opportunity to signify the day so that the country never forgets the sacrifices made by the youth of 1976, whilst acknowledging the challenges that still exist in the country. The celebration of this day is also an acknowledgement of the strides that have been made and the government has a list of activities that are going to be taking place all around the country which the DHET will also be participating in. There will be an activity led by Parliament called the Matjhabeng Parliamentary Outreach Programme under the theme "Promoting Economic Opportunity and Sustainable Livelihoods for the Youth" happening in Welkom, and all institutions in that area will be participating in the event. On 16 and 17 June, a career expo will occur, driven by the Presidency and the DHET, with all its institutions and entities. Universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will also be participating and ensuring they highlight opportunities available to the youth. Other smaller activities will happen at Provincial and institutional levels. 

Getting into the focus of the meeting, Ms Futshane told the Committee that it would look at the governance and management of TVET colleges. She expressed that she was pleased about how the Committee was putting a lot of focus on Higher Education institutions, including TVETs.

The country has a total of 50 TVET colleges, with 363 campuses spread out amongst the different provinces. In terms of governance for TVET colleges, Ms Futshane told the Committee that the Department was still in the early stages. In 2015 TVET colleges migrated from the Provincial Education Department to the DHET. In terms of governance, the Department is in the second cycle of council and soon it is going to enter into the third. Two colleges are under administration, and the rest have fully functioning councils. Each council has a total of 16 council members, ten external and six internal which is a fair representation. Five out of the ten are directly appointed by the Minister following a process where the position is advertised and those people that apply and are successful are nominated for the position. The council, which the Minister appoints, appoints four council members. She also explained that to work with the College there will also be a process of advertising and thereafter a recommendation will be made.

Ms Futshane told the Committee that there are currently 695 council members and for colleges with an administrator, the administrator takes full responsibility for governance. Regarding the council demographics, there are 87 African members, 50 coloured members, 38 white members and 20 Indian members. 36% is female and it was a concern because it is low. Only five council members are people with disabilities, which was another major concern for the Department. With the Department moving into the third cycle of appointing council members, there is an opportunity for it to correct the issues regarding gender representation and people living with disabilities.

As the Department commemorates youth month, Ms Futshane applauded that it has had some achievements with TVET colleges. The Department has completed nine rural campuses in addition to the campuses that already exist and it has also established 26 specialisation centres in 13 priority trades. This is important as the Department begins the trade for the needs of the economy.

Assuring Ms Khakhau who had previously expressed concern about the speed at which the Department was doing its reviews, Ms Futshane confirmed that the Department had reviewed and updated close to 50 subjects in terms of the curriculum review. There was never a time within the Department, that it was not reviewing the curriculum. It has also introduced the National Certificate (NCV) robotics programme, to keep up with technology and 4IR. She told the Committee how the Department rolled out five 4IR centres in 2022 and another four in 2023, which were making a significant impact in the country.

Ms Futshane expressed that the Department understood the challenges of the country especially because formal employment is limited and according to recent statistics, even university graduates are struggling to find employment. 26 colleges are offering entrepreneurship courses through entrepreneurship hubs. Such hubs are important because they provide a cushion where young people can start their businesses before being sent out into the harsh world.

As a pilot project, the Department has developed a maturity model that looks at the good standard of governance development in TVET colleges. TVET colleges have advanced from where they were in the past; an example is how there are currently less than ten colleges that are not fully on board in terms of online registration. The remaining 40 colleges have online registration that they are implementing. The Department also understands how the challenges of loadshedding also contribute to the online registration process. Students are still encouraged to do walk-ins for registration as this option is still available. The learner management system has also been implemented in almost all colleges.

Ms Futshane told the Committee that a key component of TVET colleges is the work incorporates learning and partnerships that have intensified with over 10 600 placements achieved in 2022. Lecturer development has upscaled to digital skills training with higher education institutions, Sector Education and Training Authority's (SETA) and public and private stakeholders.

NSFAS is currently providing funding for 1.1 billion students for the 2023 academic year and the Department is working on improving the challenges, so that students are not left frustrated. The number of students funded by NSFAS in 2023 covers all students in tertiary institutions and this is following an unprecedented number of applications that it received. This is significant growth from the 7000 students funded when the scheme was initiated in 1991. Currently, 12 823 students from TVET colleges have benefitted. The initial allocation to TVET colleges was 100 million, which has since grown to 7.2 billion in the 2023 academic year.

Presentation by the Department of Higher Education and Training: TVET Colleges Governance Report

Mr Themba Msipha, Chief Director: TVET Systems Planning, DHET, told the Committee that there is currently a vacancy for 101 council members and 32 were because two TVET colleges are under administration. He told the Committee that the Central Johannesburg TVET college administration is ending this month and the Department has appointed a principal and is electing a new council to take over the governance roles assigned to the administrator. The Letaba TVET College was the other College placed under administration although it was not full administration. The administration has only been assigned the governance function. The new council that will be appointed will be in place by November 2023. The term of office of the current council members in the other 48 colleges is coming to an end and the Department has started the process of making appointments. A submission has been prepared for the Minister to approve the gazette and advertising of new appointments. Once the process of appointments is completed, the Department will induct all council members before the commencement of their duties in September 2023.

Ms Msipha told the Committee that all college councils hold quarterly meetings and the Department ensures that all councils participate in developing the strategic planning process. As a result, there is now evidence that all councils participated in the development of the strategic plans as well as the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) for the 2023 academic year.

The Department has partnered with the University of Western Cape to conduct research into the governance of TVET colleges and the research is underway. The research report is expected by the end of 2023. This is the first of its kind, so it is expected to provide specific data and insight into the working of councils. The outcome of the research report will be used to focus the institutional support provided by the Department on areas that require priority intervention.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by Northlink College Management

Mr Brian Phike, Principal, Northlink College, told the Committee that the College has seven campuses, all within a 30km radius. The school specialises in business studies, utility services, mechanical, automotive, electrical, civil and construction engineering. The Northlink council is made up of seven males and eight females and has established sub-committees, namely: academic board, employment committee, finance, audit and risk committee as well as the planning and resource committee.

Speaking about the staff demographics, Mr Phike stated that the College has a total of 726 staff members, 176 of which are African, 441 are coloured, 104 are white and five are Indian. The majority of the staff is female and only 13 are people living with disabilities. Majority of the College's staff is aged between 31 and 40 years. As of June 2023, the College has 45 vacancies, seven awaiting approval from the Department. 21 were freshly advertised and 17 were re-advertised. He told the Committee that the majority of the College's formal programmes is accredited by the DHET and Umalusi. The College is in the process of applying for accreditation to offer Quality Council and Trade Occupations (QCTO) qualifications.

On student demographics, he indicated that in 2022 65% of the College's students were black, 31% were coloured and the remaining 3% were white and male. As of 2022, the College had almost a total of over 20 000 students; of that number, 19 408 were from the Western Cape, ten were international students and 1328 were students from other provinces within South Africa.

In 2022 the dropout rate increased to 4% from 2% in 2021. As of 2022, the College has 39 partnerships with industries for work integrated learning and has managed to place a total of about 3000 students.

Speaking about the student housing and infrastructure project, Mr Phike told the Committee that the College only has two student residences which host a total of about 3 000 students. They have however six infrastructure projects on their different campuses which are ongoing.

In conclusion, he told the Committee that the College had unqualified audit outcomes in the last three financial years with no findings.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by Northlink SRC

The Vice President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at Northlink explained that the SRC is made up of the President/Chairperson, Vice-President/Vice-Chairperson, Secretary-General, Treasurer-General, Academic Officer, Sport, Arts & Culture Officer, Health & Safety Officer and the Residence Officer. She told the Committee that the College is facing challenges regarding NSFAS because of the lack of communication between NSFAS and the institution, which affects the students. For example withdrawing funds, the Coinvest system has confused students, because no information has been shared about their withdrawal limitations. Bank charges have been ridiculously high, from a student perspective.

There was also a lack of consistency in terms of payments which prevented students from being able to travel to the institution, which impacted 80% of their attendance. This has the outcome of students not being eligible for external exams, which will impact the certification rate of the DHET.

The SRC Vice President told the Committee that there was a communication delay between NSFAS and the students at the College regarding accommodation, which resulted in students not being accepted for accommodation. Students are often left with no status on their accommodation applications, which causes students a lot of worry. On the other hand, there was also no communication to notify the students when their accommodation applications had been successful. The SRC has picked up various issues affecting students and has brought them up in different meetings with council and management which they are privy to.

The college management is struggling with student support, particularly for those with issues of accommodation, especially when it comes to NSFAS making payments, to the point that students are left feeling helpless. NSFAS was a big issue due to delayed payments. The Vice President indicated that the SRC has mass meetings, whereby it follows up on the progress being made in terms of addressing the issues raised.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by Northlink College Labour Union

Ms E Lords (spelling unconfirmed) told the Committee that there were limited promotional opportunities at the College due to the lack of training, nepotism and favouritism. She explained that shortlisting is done on the National Equity Plan only, without considering the Provincial Equity Plan. Members do not stand a chance when it comes to promotional positions and is not assisted in improving their chances because nepotism and favouritism are concerning issues, particularly in staff appointments and awarding contracts and tenders.

The College has become an environment where racial preference is the order of the day. Staff is no longer employed based on qualification, experience and expertise, but solely based on the race of applicants creating an absolute barrier. There is also a delay when it comes to appointments of lecturing staff, which affects student performance as there are campuses that have been without lecturers for between three and six months.

Regarding the challenges being faced by workers, Ms Lords told the Committee that workers had experienced indirect verbal threats from upper and middle management. Lack of transparency is significant and crucial in the decision-making processes. There have been delays in the payment of workers' remuneration from the human resource department, without any subsequent actions or investigations. Staff is burdened with multiple job roles without receiving adequate compensation, and unrealistic targets are imposed along with management's last-minute decisions, leading to excessive stress on staff.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by Letaba College Management

Ms S Sehlake, Administrator, Letaba College, told the Committee that the Letaba TVET College is situated in Mopani District Municipality, Limpopo Province and has a central office and four campuses.

Addressing the governance of the College, she said that the Minister had appointed an independent investigator to examine the conflict between the council and management of the College. The report was received by the Minister and thereafter, the college council was dissolved as of 15 May 2022. The Minister then appointed an independent administrator, to take over the governance responsibility of the College until a new council is appointed.

Upon being appointed, Ms Sehlake said she established governance committees and held the first meeting between November and December 2022. The first thing the committees did was review the policies. Most of them are complete and the budget for 2023 was approved in December.

Mr Benjamin Moshoma, Deputy Principal, Letaba College, confirmed that the College has a total of 251 staff members across all campuses with women being in the majority. There is a total of 26 vacancies at the College, for both teaching and non-teaching staff. In 2022 the College had a 1% dropout rate, which was an improvement from 4% in the previous year. The college certification rate in 2022 improved to 44.59% from 22.5% in 2021.

He told the Committee that the College provides academic and wellness support to students. It has developed plans to expose students to the work environment through the Work Integrated Learning programme during the five day recess. Students of the College who have completed their N6 are given an opportunity for placement. Work placements and internships are mostly funded by SETAs and the National Skills Fund (NSF). College students are also given an opportunity to participate in learnership or apprenticeship programmes after completing their main qualifications.

The College has been receiving funds below the required budget, however, it managed to sustain itself by implementing cost containment measures and controlling expenses but giving preference to teaching and learning. For the 2023/24 financial year, the College's budget was underfunded by R52 million. However, the College had a surplus despite being underfunded. In 2022 it had a surplus of 11 million rand. The College has received an unqualified audit outcome for the last three years.

Mr Moshoma said that the presentation they delivered did not address the issues between NSFAS and the institution because most of those challenges had already been worked on. He also indicated that the College has been meeting with organised labour after a long hiatus and it was able to resolve some of the issues, while others were still pending.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by the SRC at Letaba College

Mr Tshegofatso Makoala , President: Student Representative Council, Letaba College, said that there were no effective control measures at the College. Students were always absent from school without valid reasons, since there were no control measures in place to deal with the problem. The College relies on punctuality and attendance policies as a measure, which is not working. There is a lack of adequate learning facilities and due to the lack of infrastructure, students are forced to come to campus on a rotational basis and this has posed a risk to students using transport when there are late classes. There are also no libraries or study centres on the campuses.

Referring to how the President had indicated that there were a lot of students complaining about certificates, Mr Makoala confirmed that students who wrote exams, received exam statements but certificates were not coming. Students want to use the certificates for various reasons but they are just not there. This delay decreases motivation of students to tell other students about attending TVET colleges.

There is always a delay in the payment of accommodation and transport allowances, which results in high absenteeism, a high dropout rate and poses the risk of a high failure rate. The colleges' staff is not sufficiently qualified to provide support services to students.

See attached for full presentation

Presentation by Letaba College Union

Mr N Ngoako (spelling unconfirmed), a union member at the College, highlighted the challenges the academic and support staff face. As far as the academic staff is concerned, he pointed out that many are still on short term contracts despite working at the College for over five years. This has led to many resignations due to the lack of job security which has equally affected job morale. With the support staff, he explained that there were delays in the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for general workers.

Mr Ngoako told the Committee that these issues were raised with management and the Department in several meetings, yet they were never resolved, while other issues, despite reaching resolutions, were never implemented.

The SRC needs continuous leadership training. He also said that the administrator, upon being appointed, in her introductory speech, promised to meet with labour but to date, the same was yet to happen. Governance meetings held by the College also do not involve other stakeholders.

See attached for full presentation


The Chairperson asked all the stakeholders to ensure that their scribes are taking notes of the comments and questions from Committee Members because they will be required to submit their responses in writing, which should be in a weeks’ time, to the Committee Secretary. She also asked Ms Futshane to forward her opening statement because it was quite comprehensive.

She said that her understanding was that there were 800 council members across the country but looking at the demographics, the council was doing poorly regarding intersectionality. It was quite skewed racially and gender-wise regarding persons with a disability. It was important to ensure that the third cycle of council was used to fix those issues. Within the TVET space, all stakeholders can be more intentional about representation and inclusivity compared to universities where there is institutional autonomy that becomes a huge challenge. She therefore encouraged everyone involved to use the third cycle of council as an opportunity to be decisive in terms of proportional representation to the demographics of the country.

She said that there were issues of vacancies within the sector and it does not make sense that there are people who are unemployed, yet have the skills because there was no uptake. There seemed to be a narrative that students were graduating and becoming unemployed. It was not possible not to have any of the skills that are required given that particular pool of resources that universities and colleges are generating. If there was a need to ensure that jobs were better advertised to ensure that people were aware of the vacancies, she encouraged the colleges to do so. There should not be a situation where vacancies and colleges say the same position is being re-advertised.

It is commendable that councils are meeting at least once every quarter. Is there a sense of how many councils are meeting more than they have to? Are there councils that are calling for special meetings unnecessarily?

The Chairperson asked for the report of the administrator at Central Johannesburg College so that the Committee could also see what he was proposing as an intervention that could contribute to the stability of the College. The Committee should be brought into confidence in terms of how confident college branches are able to maintain the stability that the administrator has put there.

The investigation at Buffalo School City College was welcomed and the Committee was happy that the Department adhered to that particular recommendation. She asked for an explanation on the basis of the removal of the chair of the council given that one would assume that the investigation would have recommended the removal and an outright removal. What informed the department’s decision to remove the chair of the council?

She also welcomed the capacity building program that the Department was establishing. What is the update on the financial management capacity programme? What is the Department doing to work on those issues?

As a Committee, it would wish to see equality across the sector to ensure that every province and its colleges have solid audit outcomes. What proactive measures are being put in place to ensure that they start the third cycle of council on time to avoid delays? On the issue of the Continuing Education and Training Act, she said it was important, and was generally a concern that seems to be related to vacancies. Is the approval that must come from the Department, in any way hindering the colleges’ ability to deal with vacancies?

Where is the Northlink central office? Could the colleges provide a map of where their colleges and campuses are situated? 

The Chairperson asked whether a research study had been undertaken to understand why there was an interest in those particular courses being offered at the respective colleges, as she noticed that Northlink’s students were into tourism, and sports management.

She said it was alluded that many of the students are black and many of the staff are coloured. It made sense because of where the school is located. Why is the number of coloured students at Northlink so low?

The Chairperson said that as a Committee it should start advocating for investment in the TVET Sector, particularly sports. She asked to see the National Equity Plan and the Provincial Equity Plan so that the Committee is able to understand where the disjuncture is and why unions are safer. The workers at Northlink seemed very disgruntled. The workers, management and council need to meet and discuss the different issues concerning them. The school management should report to the Committee by submitting a report to it by 7 July 2023 to inform it of the outcome of the engagement; the report will need to be signed by all stakeholders.

She noted that the SRC had raised issues of NFSAS and among other issues which were not new. She asked for another engagement to happen with NFSAS so that all the issues could be raised. NFSAS needs to respond; when it does, it needs to copy the Committee in on its responses. The report should be sent to the Committee within the next 14 working days. The report should be signed by the Northlink SRC and NFSAS officials.

She welcomed the community projects that the Northlink SRC seemed to have. The printing card issues were issues that should not exist. The fact that it was being raised in such a meeting seemed petty. She asked the administrator at Northlink to address the issues as quickly as possible.

On Letaba, she asked if they had any challenges with the distances of their campuses. She asked the Department to share its investigation report with the Committee, the one that led them to have an administrator. In terms of gender representation, Letaba College was doing horribly and it was suffocating. When will a principal be appointed given that the principal has now become an RM?

She asked about the progression and certification at Letaba. There was a need to be very intentional about increasing progression and certification. She said that the Committee would like to see that the job exits are declining and their enrolment is increasing.

What is the Department doing about addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV)?

The root cause of the question of ineffective control measures is a lack of discipline. The SRC had also raised the issue of ineffective controls regarding student academic output. She said that the Committee welcomed the partnerships with SETA and various stakeholders and encouraged the College to form more partnerships with SETA and other stakeholders in government and outside government.

She asked to be provided with a spreadsheet detailing, in terms of housing, how many beds the College has at the moment and how many more it will have after the houses that are under renovation are completed. How many beds are still needed?

She welcomed the progress made by the College with NFSAS as well as with labour. She cautioned the College from thinking that they must remove certain qualifications completely. The kind of question that should be asked is what kind of human resources are needed for a digitally advanced society.

The Chairperson asked whether Northlink College had programmes where it partnered with universities to upskill its lecturers.

Ms J Mananiso (ANC) welcomed all the presentations made and agreed with the Chairperson that the workers must sit with management and solve their issues. When they report to the Committee on 7 July 2023, at least they should give a fully-fledged program of action.

Both institutions need to go back and send the Committee a detailed report that speaks on the short term mitigation, medium mitigation and long term mitigation on resolving the certification backlog. Certification was an urgent matter that needed to be addressed with the same urgency, on the basis that it is the one piece of document that actually one from advancing developmentally. The report should address the issue of certification and specific timeframes must be given.

She acknowledged the audit outcomes by the two TVETs and said that some of the issues that have audit outcomes with findings are things that seem administrative. Was it an issue related to human capital or the system that resulted in a lack of proper recording? The Committee cannot forever promote incompetency in institutions. The incompetency speaks the opposite of what the Committee wants to achieve in terms of higher learning institutions and the institutions need to get their houses in order. The DHET must respond to the Committee in terms of what it is actually doing to hold institutions accountable. On issues of infrastructure, she said both colleges had projected certain infrastructure projects. Was the same done in accordance with the project scope according to the timeframes or were there issues dealt with during that process? If there were issues, what were those issues?

She asked whether the vacancies that had been presented are funded and, if so, can the institutions provide a breakdown in terms of which are funded by the Department and those that are not? The Committee will not tolerate the fact that there might be funded vacancies that are not occupied.

Have the students been involved in all the colleges as part and parcel of the skills training programmes?

Ms N Chirwa (EFF) said that student support services are not a legal entity, therefore hearing that student support is handling issues of GBV is worrying, especially without the mention of involving the police or any external existing criminal justice system within the country with the capacity to deal with the issues raised. She said there is not even a national framework from the Department that stipulates consequence management or has a standardised way of dealing with the issues raised and intervention methods. There was no university or TVET with the capacity to deal with schedule five crimes. They cannot convict criminals or find people guilty and expelling perpetrators was insufficient justice for the victims.

There seems to be a breakdown in communication between management and the SRC from what both stakeholders have shared in the meeting. How are the institutions going to resolve the issues raised by SRC? The College must also appraise the Committee with dates to the commitments that they will be making.

She asked Nortlink to appraise the Committee on what happened in the meeting where the discussion was held to invest R44 million meant for students. Had the issue been resolved? Obviously, a conflict existed because students were complaining about NFSAS money, allowances and accommodation. Money is invested in places where it was not meant to go. What happens then? Who is held accountable for that kind of debauchery happening in the institution? Who has the audacity to take the money meant for students and invest it? The fact that the Special Investigative Unit (SIU) was involved and had to come and recover money meant for students was telling.

On the Nortlink and Letaba Labour, they raised issues but failed to indicate which workers they were talking about. The presentation was incomplete and can not be one endorsed by workers.

The Committee should warn against the growing tendency of speaking about programmes as if they are impactful or in passing. The Committee needs to be provided with numbers. How many students are part of the work exposure programme? How many got employed by the programme? She sought detailed information regarding the programme.

On labour, she wanted to hear from both the unions, the institution and the SRC on what they meant when they said that the college targets, suspends and subsequently dismisses vocal students. Could they put names to it?

Can the institution explain why irregularities were not acted upon and when it will resolve these issues with dates and clear commitments on how they are involved in resolving the issues being raised by both labour and SRC?

The Committee also needs answers on the lottery issue. How much money was spent? She said that the labour report was correct to recommend that the Committee disagree with the independent report that there should be a dissolution council while there are issues at play regarding tenders and stuff like that. There was a need to scrutinise the independence of the investigators as well. She said that the Committee may need to have its own terms of reference as to how it scrutinises.

She asked the Chairperson if the Portfolio Committee could write to NFSAS and state the detailed issues as per the particular institutions.

Mr B Yabo (ANC) thanked all the stakeholders for the presentation. On Northlink College, he said that the presentation had a lot of abbreviations, without any explanation about what they meant. It would be hard for the public, who sometimes look at the presentation to understand what is happening. He asked them to avoid using certain acronyms as if everyone understands or works in the same sector.

What are the specific demographics of the international students? Were there students from other provinces that migrated to the Western Cape? What are the arrangements around that so the Committee understands what students are in South Africa?

How safe are the Northlinks campuses for students and their workers? Does the institution have a register of crime cases that would have emanated from their campuses or within a 50 meter vicinity of the campus?

He noted that the College seemed to have partnerships with industries. How were these partnerships managed and structured? How many students have benefitted from these partnerships? Are there any benefits from them? Currently, it was good to know that the partnerships have grown from 15% in 2020 to 39% in 2022. He hoped that the partnerships would have grown from 39% in the period under review.

Mr Yabo said that the questions he raised would also apply to Letaba College.

It seemed that Northlink College had 20,000 students and only had two residences. He asked whether that was an omission or if this was the actual number of residences the College has.

The Department needs to be more deliberate about removing the stigma around TVET colleges and treating them like the stepchild of higher education institutions. Students fight for spots at universities because TVETs are the rural areas of the higher education sector. He said that no student in high school is excited about finishing school to join a TVET college because they are not held in high regard. The poorest of earners come to TVETs and yet there are in poor condition; there was a need to prioritise TVET colleges.

On finance, he applauded Northlink for maintaining an unqualified audit outcome. A clear audit seemed nice to have that proved nothing was done. When one looks at a clean audit properly, they find nothing has been done. Clean audits are not worth anything. He would rather have an unqualified audit with no findings and with delivery of mandates.

He asked the College what other income streams it referred to in its slides so that the Committee understands where the money is going. He asked Northlink whether it was underfunded and by how much and if the College has a surplus, what did it do with it?

On governance, he said that DHET was bombarded with headaches because it had appointed the wrong people into leadership. Leaders are a specific breed of people who are able to harmonise an institution wherever they are placed and galvanise the strengths of those they would work with. On the other hand, managers manage what they are given to manage but will create chaos in managing relations and concerns. He said selection criteria must speak to people’s leadership track records. One key indicator of a bad leader was the attrition rate of resigning.

He asked the institutions in their response to provide the Committee with the number of students struggling to get their disbursements from NFSAS.

Mr Yabo sought an explanation from the colleges of what happens when they get fewer amounts than budgeted for. How did they get underfunded and still get a surplus?

On the relationship between the labour and school, he advised them to apply a softer approach when dealing with unions. Being flexible will help them go a long way in solving many problems. He advised management to bring the student and union leaders on board and engage with them on the commonly shared values that will help the institution go forward. He was confident that half of their problems would be resolved if they took this approach.

Ms K Khakhau (DA) said that the complaints being raised by the students about NFSAS were not new. It was unfair that in a meeting where all the stakeholders concerned were present, they later on walk out without any answers or solutions. She said that the longer the institution takes to provide the Committee with information, the longer it will take for the Committee to do what is necessary and know how to deal with it. She was saying so because the presentation was lacking a lot of information.

She asked for a report on the review of the curriculum. She worried that while they complain that councils are predominantly white, TVETS are extremely black in universities. There was no balance. This was visible on the council profile provided. She asked them to explain the logic behind how councils are created.

She asked for a report on the review of the curriculum. She worried that while they complain that in universities, councils are predominantly white, TVETS are extremely black. There is no balance. This was visible on the council profile provided. She asked them to explain the logic behind how councils are created.

She said that she would appreciate more in-depth sessions between the unions and Committee in the future. She was saying that because it seemed like the unions and management had already tried to resolve their issues and the same had not been successful.

She asked Northlink to explain fully the issues over the relationship with labour that it was raising and to provide full particulars with an explanation of why those grievances are being raised from resolutions.

Ms Khaukhau asked for reasons behind the delay in filing vacancies. She asked Northlink to provide a comprehensive report on the lecturer vacancies it was offering and the courses they were for.

She advised SRC and NFSAS to work on their communication.

Why is the demographic attraction so unstable? Has the College done an analysis on the same? Could the College explain why certain courses seem to do well and others do not? Does it have something to do with the courses themselves or student lecturers?

She asked the College to provide an explanation regarding the student dropout rates.

Ms Khaukhau asked Northlink management to explain the plan of action for the issues cited in relation to its Wi-Fi timelines. She asked them to provide the names of the contractors responsible for the project's infrastructure.

Regarding accommodation shortages, is the College saying that NFSAS is paying for students to stay in shacks?

The lack of accommodation space for students is not something that happened recently. There must have been a trail of conversations from the Department around infrastructure development. She asked for an explanation of what happened leading up to the lack of accommodation space.

Mr S Ngcobo (DA) asked the Department if it was going to take any measures to ensure that it recruits more persons with disability for council positions. Had the two colleges done any analysis and looked into the causes behind the dropouts? Did colleges have a disability unit that assists students with disabilities? Do all lecture venues have ramps? Are all places accessible for students that are wheelchair-bound?

He asked for an explanation behind the certification drop in 2021 at Letaba College. Why had the administrator of Letaba College not met with the organised labour despite assurances to do so?

The Chairperson thanked all the Members for the comments, questions and recommendations. She encouraged all the stakeholders who are part of the accountability ecosystem to play their part.

She clarified that NFSAS should report to the Committee within the next 14 working days what it has resolved to do concerning the SRC and the Committee wants evidence of the discussion that will be had. She implored the Members to read the reports as they come in because they, unfortunately, do not have the time to do so in meetings. She asked the Members to be patient with the magnitude of work being done and how they are forced to do it.

The Chairperson noted that Committee Members had raised many issues surrounding Letaba College. She therefore asked labour, administration and management to engage on the issues raised and report back to the Committee. She asked Northlink to provide all the data sets requested by the Members and reminded those present to ensure they provide their responses within the next seven to 14 working days.

She explained that the reason NFSAS took back the accreditation of housing is because, in its housing summit, it indicated that it wants to follow the money. The Committee needs to play its oversight role over NSFAS, to ensure that it meets all the commitments that it is making.

Closing Remarks by the Department

Ms Futshane thanked the Committee for the progressive engagements and explained that TVET Colleges are under the authority of DDG Zungu.

She thanked the Committee for the progressive engagements. TVET colleges are under the authority of DDG Zungu. She assured the Committee that she would deliver a full report of what transpired during the meeting and ensure that timelines were adhered to regarding all the actions that must be taken. On behalf of the Department, she committed that the Department follow up with the respective colleges and NFSAS to ensure that the work that must be done is done.

She again thanked the Committee for engaging with the Colleges but particularly with the students. The Committee had, in a way, brought Parliament to the people. Engagements with the Committee were always progressive.

The Chairperson thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

Meeting adjourned.

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