Department Of Higher Education To Reduce Debt Pressure Faced By Universities

PICTURE: Kick

On Wednesday Deputy director-general for university education Diane Parker highlighted that the Department of Higher Education and Training will use the increased funding to settle debt owed to Universities by continuing students.

Last week Wednesday, Former finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that the Government has provided R57 Billion in the medium term to fund free fees for first-year tertiary students with an estimation of 1.1 million students from low household incomes over the next three years, in addition to the R10bn extra provided in the October adjustment budget.

Parker revealed that the new funding is destined for the provision of free higher education for first-time entrants from poor and working-class families, but some of the money will be used to alleviate the financial pressure facing universities from student debt.

“Many continuing students who qualified for support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) had run up debt because their families failed to make the expected contribution to their studies or because the cost of their chosen course was higher than the R67,000 scheme cap,” said Parker.

“This debt sits with universities and puts them under significant financial pressure, the scale of the debt had yet to be quantified,” she added.

Parker told MPs that universities were to get a significant increase in funding for clinical training of health professionals this year, to take account of underfunding in previous years and of a large group of medical students who were in the final stages of their studies in Cuba and would return to complete their training in SA in July.

The grant for clinical training of health professionals will rise from R475 million in 2017-18 to R574 million in 2018-19, up 20.5%.

According to Parker, it is vital for universities, technical and vocational education and training colleges to stick with their enrolment plans as the tight management of these plans is essential