DHET PSET 2017/18 budget comment 2

The Minister of Higher Education and Training recently presented the 2017/18 department budget to parliament.

He is responsible for ALL post-school education and training. This includes both public and private providers at ‘college’ and ‘university’ level.

This responsibility includes 26 public universities and over 100 [relatively small] private providers offering degrees and higher. It also includes 50 public technical and vocational colleges, community colleges and speciality colleges. In addition, there are also over 100 private colleges.

He is also in charge of the 21 SETAs and while not validated, it is estimated that there are up to 4000 small providers serving SETA skills development needs.

Within this context, He has the unenviable job of presenting a ‘balanced’ budget.

Typically, there are 4 major players in a democratic society; Government, Business, Labour and Civil society. In summary and from my perspective; Government is calling for more funds to be directed to national skills needs, Business is demanding much more value from skills levies, Labour is not allowing any possibility of staff optimisation at public institutions and Civil society simply says ‘fees must fall’.

Based on my own interpretation on the 2017/18 DHET budget these are the ‘big’ line items.

·         Universities R 41,9bn

·         NSFAS R 10,1bn

·         TVET colleges R 7,4bn

·         Community Colleges R2,2bn

·         SETA levies is R 16,6bn

If we make the simple assumption that all the NSFAS funding also goes to universities that means approximately R 52bn will be spent on university education in 2017/18. The number of students in the public university system is estimated at just under 1 million. If we assume 1 million students, then the government contribution per student is R52 000. Surprisingly not that much, and as such, it is understandable that universities need to charge a fee as well.

My other observation and more worrying concern is the mismatch between expenditure at university level and college level. The budget for TVET and Community colleges plus 50% of SETA levies and assuming another 2bn to speciality colleges, is approximately R 20bn.

If we have a skills challenge in SA; is it correct that R 52bn goes to universities and R 20bn to colleges?

I don’t envy the minister, his advisors and the department officials, however I do know that the status quo is not doing the job!

It’s time for significant change. I wonder if the major players will put their constituency needs aside and do what’s best for SA. I sincerely hope so….



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2 thoughts on “DHET PSET 2017/18 budget comment

  • Suzanne Hattingh

    My main concern is that very little of the budget will be spent on preparing the workforce for the massive disruption that we will be experiencing in the next 5 years due to the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution and what Ian Golden calls the ‘New Renaissance”. Many students exit universities with outdated qualifications that were developed 5-10 years ago, without significant redesign. The QCTO qualifications are training people for occupations that won’t exist in 2030 or will be unrecognisably transformed by robots and other disruptive technologies. There is no provision in the funding of the post-school system for the just-in-time, continuous, informal (non NQF-able) learning that is necessary to equip people for the 2030 workplace. We must prepare the current & future workforce to work in virtual collaboration teams across disciplinary boundaries, to move flexibly between temporary work assignments (the end of job security!), and to rapidly acquire new skills to be able to add value in new ‘occupations’ that will disappear almost as quickly as they emerge. These 2030 occupations will never be registered on the Organising Framework for Occupations, the rigid and flawed basis of our current occupational skills development system.