Nzimande's varsity funding review goes ahead

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Cape Town - A review of funding framework for higher education institutions that could lead to more money being allocated to historically disadvantaged universities is going ahead as planned this year.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande told parliament during his budget vote on Thursday that a ministerial task team will also study university student housing and assess the need for additional accommodation, the quality of existing facilities and options for the financing of new student housing.

In 2008, the South African government increased funding to universities to R3.6 billion to reverse a funding decline, reward institutions that produce more graduates, improve infrastructure and relieve financial pressure to raise fees - an issue that propels student protest countrywide.

Nzimande said there were discrepancies in the current funding model for universities in that more money is being channeled to the top universities while the historically disadvantaged continued to suffer infrastructure backlogs. "What is of concern to me is how we address the problems of historically disadvantaged universities which I have been told they are still disadvantaged by the way," he said.

More than R3.2 billion from the department's budget has been allocated to infrastructure funds to universities for the next two financial years. Nzimande said the funds will help universities to increase production of graduates in the critical areas of engineering, life and physical science, teacher education and health sciences. About R686 million of the funding will be used to improve student housing. About R431 million goes to teaching development grants while R185 million has been set aside for provision of foundation courses.