Chartered Accountants to assist FET colleges

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pretoria - A group of retired chartered accountants are to be moved in to the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges to work as Chief Financial Officers (CFOS).

Presenting his department's Budget Vote on Tuesday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants has agreed to provide the department with accountants for a period of two years to assist in setting up effective accounting and financial management systems in all colleges.

"The CAs matter is a short term intervention, which we hope will have a medium to long term effect. If they can work now to set up proper systems for two years and also train people under them....that will actually be beneficial beyond the short term," Nzimande explained.

Nzimande also noted an increase in the number of enrolments at FET Colleges. In 2011, the projected headcount enrolment was 359 000 in all programmes, but 437 060 enrolled, exceeding the department's projection by 24 percent. This year, the department is expecting a further increase in enrolments to 550 000.

He attributed this to bursaries amounting to 100 percent of fees for all those with a family income of under R 122 000 per annum and 165 273 bursaries awarded to students in 2011.

"Another reason is that the Career Advice campaign we launched together with SAQA and the SABC has started to have an effect. The radio campaign, in all nine African Languages and including Afrikaans, is estimated to have reached over 2 million listeners."

An amount of R15 billion has been set aside for over the three-year MTEF period starting in 2012/13 to ensure increased enrolments in FET colleges.

Nzimande explained that the amount is about expansion as well as improvement of quality apart from the normal budget allocated to FET colleges.

Nzimande further announced that the department is completing an infrastructure audit; where infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, it will be refurbished as part of the FET College Campus Refurbishment Programme.

Earlier this month, the President announced an amount of R2.5 billion over the next three years from levy funds for infrastructure, machinery and programmes in FET Colleges.

"We have determined that in the short-term there is a need to build 12 new campuses attached to the existing FET Colleges. The department has entered into negotiations with the Public Investment Corporation with a view to sourcing further funding for college infrastructure."

A comprehensive strategy has also been developed to ensure the smooth transfer of FET colleges from provincial to national competence once the FET Colleges Amendment Bill is signed by the President.

The department will this year implement a performance agreement system for FET College principals to ensure greater accountability and the delivery of high-quality college programmes in line with economic development priorities.