Pandor to spend R67bn on education
THE government will spend a whopping R67 billion on postschool education, with at least R33bn being allocated towards the newly introduced free higher education.
Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor was briefing the media yesterday before tabling her department’s R89.9bn budget in the National Assembly.
She said R20.5bn was allocated to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), R10.7bn for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, R38.6bn for universities, R16.9bn for skills development and R2.3bn for community and education training colleges.
Pandor said her department expected 84 000 first-time university students to be fully funded this year. A further 190 000 in all other years of study would be funded at the “average full cost of study”.
“This massive injection of student funding support under the new bursary scheme is also combined with a government commitment to increase the core funding for universities and TVET colleges to 1% of GDP over a five-year period‚” Pandor said.
However, she said the free education, meant for students from households with an annual income of less than R350 000, did not provide for postgraduate students.
“There has to be attention to the improvement of funding post-graduate students… I think we need to ensure we do provide adequate resources,” Pandor said.
“My sense is that it is one of the domains in which there is significant possibility for partnership with the private sector.
“Other countries have done this well. It is an area we could explore,” Pandor added.
NSFAS chief executive Steven Zwane said they had received up to 420 000 applications – way more than the 110 000 received by the end of November last year.
“We do know who qualifies and meets the funding criteria of NSFAS. What we are now doing is to make sure that the data that we have matches the data of registration at institutions to make sure that we quantify those numbers effectively,” Zwane said.
He said all qualifying students would be paid by the end of the month.
The DA’s Belinda Bozzoli said the hasty decision on free education had led thousands of students to believe they would be funded, when it was not the case six months later.
Bozzoli said the announcement was short-term and a populist one. She questioned what would happen to the funding when it trebled in three years time.
The EFF’s Hlengiwe Hlophe-Mkalipi said the ANC-led government was not sincere about free education.
She said it was shocking that NSFAS has not paid all students five months into the calendar year – leaving many students without study materials, meals and accommodation.
Hlophe-Mkalipi said the EFF’s call for free education was to benefit all, not just those from households earning less than R350 000 a year.
“One year at university can cost up to R100 000 if you include everything. Fees are half the problem,” she charged.
Pandor said the department was working with NSFAS to address challenges in administration of the bursary scheme.
“We will also continue with the pilot of a public-private partnership initiative known as the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme that is being offered in 12 universities and one TVET college this year, and is supporting more than 5 000 students,” Pandor said.