TVET Colleges Should Be Promoted At Basic Education Level, Says Committee


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.



TVET Colleges are at the forefront of discussions amongst the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

The Parliamentary Portfolio Committee believes that Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and programmes "should be promoted at the Basic Education level to attract more students for enrolment and for orientation programmes, across all institutions,".

The promotion of TVET colleges, according to the Committee, should be "detailed enough for students to know what kind of programmes [they] can enroll in." 

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has laid down the goal of expanding the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector, with the Committee advocating for an increase in the budget for TVET, creating better infrastructure, employing more lecturers and improving equity in TVET and university programmes overall. 

When applying for tertiary education, many potential students steer towards a university and away from a TVET college, as there is a broad misconception that university education is better than the education offered at a college. 

For 2023, the total number of planned first-time enrollments (new students enrolling) in a TVET college (per province) is 205 856 students. 

The Gauteng province had the most enrollments of 53 352, while the province with the lowest enrollments was the Northern Cape, with a figure of 5 193. 

The TVET College branch has been recognised as not being adequately funded, further influencing students to choose universities over colleges while they remain unfunded.

Another reason why the enrolment targets set for TVET Colleges were not met is because TVET qualifications don't appear as attractive to students, because the completion rate at N6 is very low. Students are more inclined to attend university, thinking those qualifications offer better job prospects than TVET college qualifications.

This is further aggravated by the poor performance of TVET colleges in general due to lack of standardisation and fragmentation at play.

"This Committee had done a lot of work to understand the demands of the PSET sector and how it could advocate for the required resources for the TVET programme to fulfil its mandate," said the Committee. 

The TVET sector is, in general, constrained due to the following: 

  1. Colleges largely provide for students from families with poor backgrounds
  2. The infrastructure grant is tied up in the Department
  3. There is an increased demand for access in the TVET sector, which is not reciprocated by increased funding
  4. There is a lack of an appropriate funding framework for TVET colleges

Disruptions to the 2023 academic year in the form of student protests took place at various institutions of higher learning, due to grievances with the institutions themselves in regards to registration and/or financial blocks, the National Student Financial Scheme (NSFAS), and problems with student accommodation that have left many students stranded and in limbo. 

Students were not happy with how NSFAS was always delaying the list of funded students, making it difficult for poor and middle-class students to register within the set registration window. These negatively impacted the teaching and learning processes at institutions of higher learning, and created poor performances in the first term. 

The Committee has stated that the abovementioned reasons are enough to cause instability on many campuses, therefore the protests could be expected.

The Committee has criticized NSFAS' shortfalls when it comes to disbursing the promised allowances to qualifying students, as the Scheme is notoriously delayed. 

"The Committee was not pleased with the poor communication by NSFAS and USAf (Universities South Africa), as it came up with policies without informing the Committee about the reasoning behind them. The workers on campuses needed to be trained by unions on how to handle protests without causing harm to protestors, and there should be a uniform policy formed by the Department on how to handle such situations," expressed the Committee. 

The Minister of the DHET, and the DHET itself, has taken note of the student protests, which have spread at more than one institution, beginning at the University of Cape Town (UCT) but has reached the University of the Western Cape (UWC), North West University (NWU), the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Wits University, and others. 


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