Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions are the biggest winners according to the recommendations of the Fees Commission report. Universities will not be receiving free education but the report recommends that TVET college education should be fee free in the form of grants and that “no student be partially funded” at these schools.
The Presidency released the report – which was commissioned in January 2016 following the initial bout of Fees Must Fall protests – on Monday. Prior to its release, there was much speculation that President Zuma was going to announce free education across the board.
Despite not being directly involved in the protests, TVET students still experienced underfunding which rested at R4.7 billion in 2016 and budget cuts. Instead the TVET sector was not compensated for the no-fee increase in 2016 like the university sector was and was excluded from the R2.6 billion for student debt relief.
TVET graduates have a lower earning power and suffer challenges with their employability, the Commission found. Currently, the department of higher education and training (DHET) is supposed to fund TVET students at an 80:20 ratio but this has fallen behind. The report recommends that this should increase to 100% funding.
Stipends are also to be made available through TVET colleges for needy students to cover full cost of study. Should this not be possible, income-contingent loans (ICLs), which are loans tailored to graduates’ salaries should be made available to these students.
Where is the money to fund TVET colleges supposed to come from?
1. Although it’s recommended that NSFAS be replaced with ICLs for universities, the #FeesCommission report recommends that it be retained for the provision of the funding of all TVET students and for TVET student support if necessary.
2. The report recommends that R50-billion from the surplus of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) be ring-fenced to fund infrastructure of TVET colleges’ facilities.
3. National Skills Fund (NSF) money is recommended to supplement the money from the UIF, and to be prioritised towards the TVET sector for infrastructure development.
4. The Sector Education and Training Authority (Seta) sector is advised to be restructured to reduce costs and inefficiency. This saving is to be used for curriculum development, lecturer training or other costs related to improving teaching and learning in the TVET sector and facilitating job placement for graduates.
5. Seta allocations are also to be used to fund occupation programmes not currently funded in the TVET colleges.
Additional reporting by Ethel Nshakira.