Department Reveals Plans To Expand Higher Education Access


The Department of Higher Education has been attempting to improve the higher education sector for some time now, with a number of plans and strategies being implemented to reach this goal. However, there is still a significant amount of work to be done.



The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has revealed its plans to expand access to tertiary education.

One of these plans is to increase the number of students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), a government bursary scheme that allows students from poor or working class backgrounds to attend tertiary institutions by covering most of their fees.

Additionally, the DHET hopes to increase the number of first-time entering students by 2.1%. 

The DHET is also evaluating the use of online education by public institutions of higher learning, aiming to promote the use of technology to improve the quality of teaching and learning and ultimately broaden access to tertiary education. 

DHET Minister Blade Nzimande says while the use of online education by different institutions in the post-school education sector has not been quantified, several initiatives were introduced to increase its use. 

To build the capacity of institutions to expand access through online education, the DHET has developed a National Guideline on using technology to enhance teaching and learning.

An additional project on blended learning was initiated by the Department to build lecturer and tutor capacity in blended learning of Mathematics and Statistics Education, tutoring and support. 

Its objective is to encourage collaboration through workshops between universities and faculty communities, in which the best practices of blended learning are shared and new knowledge is created to improve the delivery of education. 

A specific focus is being placed on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. 

The Department has been trying (for some time now) to increase enrollments and qualifications obtained at TVET colleges. To reach this goal, the National Development Plan (NDP) was introduced. 

The NDP has set an ambitious target of producing 30,000 artisans annually by 2030. To make this happen, the TVET sector needs to expand and improve significantly.

Currently, the sector is producing around 20,000 artisans annually.

One of the strategies to increase the number of artisans being produced is increasing the capacity of TVET colleges and ensuring they become the preferred institutions for learners leaving school. 

Nzimande believes that 60% of individuals who leave school must pursue artisanal-type training to meet the country’s demand for scarce skills, stating that increasing the number of qualified artisans produced in the country can provide the skills needed in the South African economy. 

Additional efforts include increasing the number of TVET students who complete a learnership or internship, increasing the number unemployed TVET graduates by placing them within workplaces, building new TVET college campuses and Community Learning Centres. 

While all of the above-mentioned efforts are welcomed, there are contradictions currently in place which actually exclude students from entering and participating in universities and colleges in South Africa.

These exclusions include the regular changing of NSFAS eligibility rules, which leads to the exclusion of missing middle students, postgraduate students and ongoing allegations of money fraud within NSFAS and the higher education sector, which negatively affects students. 

The "missing middle" is the term given to students who are considered to be "too rich" to receive funding from NSFAS, but are not rich enough to pay for their studies completely out of their own pockets.

These students may be thought of as "too rich" for NSFAS, but the reality is that higher education is extremely expensive and unaffordable for most. 

Nzimande has previously revealed that government is investigating introducing a loan scheme to assist missing middle students. Information of this missing middle student loan is set to be revealed when the DHET publishes its Comprehensive Student Funding model.


Suggested Article:

Higher Education Minister

There are more than 50 TVET colleges with over 200 campuses located across South Africa. Government wants to increase enrolment at these institutions and has outlined plans for expansion.




Google News

Advertisement i

Advertisement m