Higher Education Plans To Open "Huge" Skills Centre Just Under R150 Million



The Department of Higher Education and Training has implemented a number of strategies to boost TVET colleges and the College Sector as a whole. A significant amount of money is required for the plans to succeed, which the Department is unfortunately lacking.



The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, alongside the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) have revealed that a new skills centre is in the works.

The centre is said to cost "just under R150 million," built by the Wholesale and Retail Sector in Sekhukhune, one of the five Limpopo Districts.

This staggering figure of R150 million was sourced from the skills fund, not from the fiscus, in order to prioritise rural areas and build skills centres and colleges there. 

The DHET has been working on ways to expand the College Sector, which not only includes the building of skills centres, but also the creation of new college campuses that have been built over the last eight to ten years, with some currently in development. 

However, the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College Sector is significantly underfunded in comparison to universities. 

The DHET did not receive any additional money for colleges, besides the annual inflationary linked increases. In fact, there have been budget cuts and there has not been any funding allocated for the expansion of TVET colleges. 

"Given the total amount of money that we have, we need to think about what can be done to expand the College Sector without sacrificing the need to reach 1.62 million university enrolments by 2023," stated the Department.

Therefore, a significant increase in funding is needed for the expansion of the College Sector, in order to meet the targets laid out by the National Development Plan (NDP). 

"The analysis done by the Department has revealed that a required significant funding increase of up to 100% over the MTEF, and up to 300% until 2030 will be required if the developmental target of 2.5 million TVET students must still be achieved," stated Nzimande.

A task team is currently working on potential strategies to successfully expand the TVET College sector. These include:

  • Assessment of the available excess infrastructure (classrooms, workshops etc.) to cater for additional enrolments,
  • Assessment of the capacity of colleges to offer multimodal/hybrid teaching and learning i.e. distance learning,
  • Acceleration of initiatives for digitizing assessments and online digital content development, and
  • Assessment of the human resource (i.e. lecturers) capacity to cater for the growth of the sector. 

This lack of funding is a factor that influences students when they choose a tertiary institution, with many opting for a university over a TVET college.

There is already a broad misconception that university education is better than the quality of education offered at a TVET college, and this lack of funding contributes to that myth. 

This is also aggravated by the poor performance of TVET Colleges in general, due to lack of standardisation at play. 

There is also the belief that a university qualification will provide graduates with a higher chance of gaining employment, than a TVET qualification will. This notion is further enforced by the astronomically high youth unemployment rate.

The DHET is aiming to encourage more students to consider TVET colleges as a viable and legitimate option for tertiary education, and not only consider universities. 

For the 2023 academic year, TVET Colleges have had a total enrolment target of 556 415.

This figure is made up of 497 032 enrolments for Ministerial Approved Programmes, with an additional 59 383 enrolments for programmes that are funded through other funding sources. 

"The total required budget for this enrolment plan amounts to R14.591 billion, of which R14.428 billion is funded by the State with a correlating budget deficit of R162 million (or 1.13% funding deficit), that must be absorbed by TVET Colleges through the recovery of student fees. The state can therefore currently only fund 480,686 TVET Enrolments from the fiscus baseline, which is far below the envisaged growth required by the National Development Plan [NDP] of 2.5 million TVET enrolments by 2030," stated the Minister

The Department is also mindful that the issue of expansion should not only be funding-focused, but that an integrated approach is also required, both aimed at increasing the enrolment numbers and the quality of education. This integrated approach should include (amongst others):

  • Ensuring that there are costs and operational efficiencies regarding the utilization of current resources by colleges.
  • Improving governance processes at colleges to attract external funding.
  • Accelerating the curriculum transformation process.
  • Institutionalizing skills levy funding for skills programmes offered by colleges.
  • Strengthening relations with private colleges.
  • Exploring opportunities evident from the gap created by Universities of Technologies, as several are currently operating as traditional universities.

Registrations and admission processes have been standardised as well as the issuing of certificates, while the use of technology has also been embraced in the enrolment of students in TVET colleges; a huge number of students were accepted through online applications.


Suggested Article:

A student at a TVET College.

South Africa has 26 public universities and 50 TVET colleges, but it has been revealed that most students are gravitating towards choosing a university over a college, and TVET colleges aren't keeping up with its enrolment targets, in comparison to universities.




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