Higher Education Department Plans To Prioritize Infrastructure Development


The lack of adequate infrastructure to keep up with the growing demand for tertiary education in South Africa has been an ongoing challenge for the Higher Education Department. However, this appears to have not deterred the department, as it outlines its plans to tackle the issue using existing resources and collaborative programmes.



The Department of Higher Education has set its sights on prioritizing infrastructure development within the post-school education and training (PSET) sector. This, according to Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande is to be achieved through further infrastructure investment to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the sector.  

This was highlighted as he opened the University of the Western Cape Education Facility precinct and the Unibell Residence at the Bellville Campus in the Western Cape on Monday.

Nzimande emphasized that his department will continue to prioritize infrastructure development at historically disadvantaged universities to ensure that maintenance backlogs are addressed and the quality of infrastructure delivery management is improved at these institutions.

This is among the reasons that we have reviewed our current existing model of cooperation with the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) to make it more effective and in line with our plans of using our PSET infrastructure to stimulate local economic development and inclusion.

The Minister also announced the department's investments in the feasibility studies of new universities of Science and Innovation, and a new Crime Detection University through the Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) to the value of R6 million.

How The DHET Plans To Address Student Accommodation Shortage

Furthermore, the opening of the Unibell student accommodation is part of Phase 1 of the Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP), of which the University of the Western Cape has been allocated 2,720 beds.

The program has a mandate to deliver 60% of the student beds needed on campuses that are located in rural and peri-urban areas. 

A wide range of partners, including the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), National Treasury (NT), and EU through its Infrastructure Investment Programme for South Africa (IIPSA), committed to supporting the Department’s Student Housing Infrastructure Programme.

This will come in the form of providing financial support for the development of student housing projects on universities and college campuses.

Investment in student housing infrastructure is critical to ensuring access to quality higher education and training and success in the system. 

This is in line with the department's newly designed model of education precincts, aimed at exploring and testing an alternative modality of education delivery, based on closer multi-educational institutional cooperation, closer articulation, with strong science and innovation linkages.

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A university student living in student accommodation.

Student accommodation remains one of the most frustrating challenges students find themselves dealing with when entering or returning to tertiary institutions. Although the Department of Higher Education and Training, alongside NSFAS, have pledged to resolve some of the problems, there is still a long way to go.




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