The ACDP supports the objective of this Higher Education budget in terms of not just expanding access and increasing student financial aid but producing relevant mid- to high-level skills which must move us in the direction of greater readiness to meet the challenges of the 21st Century.

We also welcome the attention being given to Africanisation and the decolonisation of curricula.

The ACDP notes that the bulk of the departments substantial increase from R31.6 billion to R45.1 billion will be spent on transfers and subsidies to universities - this includes the additional R11.3 billion that government has allocated for university subsidies - to cover the 8 percent tuition fee increase in the 2018 academic year for undergraduate students from families with a combined annual income of between R350,000 and R600,000 - and to ensure that university operating costs are adequately covered.

The ACDP also notes the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will increase from R10.1 billion to R35.3 billion for the phasing in - over the next few years - of fee-free higher education and training for the poor and working class.

The ACDP fully supports the NDP requirement that expanded access to skills programmes must address the labour market’s need for intermediate skills and include a practical component.

The ACDP calls on the Minister to ensure that work opportunities and work placements for artisans are priorities alongside the expanding of skills training.

Transfers and subsidies to TVET colleges, show an increase from R1.5 billion to R6.8 billion by 2020/21 and R4.4 billion of this will go to refurbishing campus buildings, purchasing workshop equipment and maintaining facilities. We also note that an estimated 4 200 learners and 4 200 workers are expected to benefit from the National Skills Fund over this period - a small but welcome extra source of help in equipping a skilled workforce.

The ACDP welcomes all efforts to improve the skills of the lecturers and the performance of students, aimed at increasing the number of artisan learners qualifying. We are calling on the department to prioritise the development and implementation of a teaching and learning support plan for TVET colleges. We are also calling for Public TVET college examination centres to be monitored and assessed without delay.

The provision of fully subsidised higher education and training for all current and future undergraduate university and TVET college students from poor and working class families will begin in 2018 for 1st year and extended to second, third and fourth year students in subsequent years.

Last but not least, community education and training colleges - which primarily target youths and adults who did not complete or attend school - will also see an increased budget.  The ACDP calls on the department to ensure previously developed regulations and policies for community education and training colleges are implemented without delay and for oversight reports to be produced in order to monitor and evaluate their performance.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY DEBATE: Budget Vote 15: Higher Education and Training
17 May 2018

WATCH: Higher Education Budget Vote 15