TVET College Sector Facing Financial Constraints

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The Higher Education department wants to increase the amount of students enrolling in academic programmes at Technical and Vocational Education and Training colleges. However, these colleges are facing several challenges.

 


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During the third quarter of 2022, 34,5% of the 10,2 million young people aged between 15 and 24 years old; living in South Africa were not in employment, education or training (NEET).

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges play an important role in reducing the NEET rate as they equip young people with skills they could use to secure employment or undertake entrepreneurial endeavours.

However, TVET colleges continue to face several challenges which could hinder their ability to perform this crucial role of developing South Africa’s skills base.

According to the APPs of colleges, a total of 497,032 are planned for ministerial-approved programmes for the 2023 academic year. Of these, 480,686 enrolments will be funded by the state and 16,345 will be funded by TVET colleges or self-funded by students.

The total required budget for this 2023 enrolment plan amounts to R14.5 billion of which R14.4 billion is funding by the State (80% programme costs excluding un-allocated opex for new campuses) 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.

In a recent parliamentary meeting, The South African Public Colleges Organisation said the constraints faced by the TVET college sector are mainly financially focused.

These issues include an increase in students entering the system, without a corresponding increase in funding, problems around infrastructure structure grants and the lack of an appropriate funding framework.

The prevailing funding pressure also continues to place pressure on the personnel budget of the colleges and consequently constrains the ability to cater for operations. Colleges are also concerned about the management fee imposed by Nsfas.

Despite the challenges facing the TVET college sector, improvements are being made according to Siphiwe Khumalo, President of the South African Technical and Vocational Education and Training Student Association (SATVETSA).

Khumalo explained that the introduction of online applications created a new advanced model for students for both current and new applicants.  New applicants can process their applications in their own comfort zone and apply to any college without incurring travelling costs.

However, there is room for further improvement in the sector.

They called on the Department of Higher Education and Training to lessen the paperwork students are subjected to, reduce the queues that usually occur during enrolments, allow current students to roll over and be pre-enrolled while still at home, and allow students to upload their documents with ease.

Khumalo said that applications and pre-enrolments had resumed in some colleges, while others were still preparing, and new students were being assisted with National Student Financial Aid (Nsfas) applications as they came to write their placement tests.

They further stated that as an organisation, they predict there would be challenges with current students whose statuses were not resolved.

Due to the student debt, this would likely result in challenges during the registration period. Khumalo added that the continuation of the DHET bursary rules and guidelines remained unchanged, although it has caused a series of problems during the current academic year.

 

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