How Government Plans To Solve The Issue Of Underfunded TVET Colleges


TVET Colleges are falling behind in comparison to universities, mainly due to students not enrolling in a TVET college for tertiary education. The Department of Higher Education is aware of the TVET College sectors' short-comings, and has a number of plans in place to solve these issues. 



It has recently been revealed that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges are underfunded, in comparison to universities. 

South Africa has 26 public universities and 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges. However, discoveries have shown that most students are gravitating towards choosing a university over a college, and as a result, TVET Colleges aren't keeping up with enrolment targets in comparison to universities.

The lack of funding allocated for TVET Colleges is a factor that influences students to choose a university instead of a 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 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 Department of Higher Education and Training (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 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 of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande.

There has been a decline of approximately 5% in state-funded TVET enrolments over the past three financial years, explained the Minister.

The DHET and the Minister say this is predominantly attributed to the impact of Covid-19 on the fiscus envelope, as well as the numerous budget cuts that have been applied by the National Treasury (NT) on the TVET budget allocation. which has resulted in "almost no real time growth in the baseline since 2021/22." 

Therefore, a significant increase in funding is needed for the expansion of the TVET college sector in order to meet the targets laid out by the National Development Plan. 

"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 the 2030 will be required if the developmental target of 2.5 million TVET students still must 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. 

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.


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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