Categories: Government

South African Higher Education Minister Briefs on 2024 Academic Year Readiness

  • Matric Success: 2023 Matric pass rate of 82.9%, with 572,983 successful candidates, a 2.8% increase from the previous year.
  • Higher Education Growth: Substantial enrollment growth, new universities, and increased financial support for TVET colleges aim at transformation.
  • 2024 Readiness: TVET colleges started on January 15, universities underway, NSFAS updates, and ongoing efforts to address challenges.
Published by
Lethabo Ntsoane

Professor Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, addressed the nation today, providing insights into the state of readiness for the 2024 academic year in the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector.

Congratulatory Message to the 2023 Matriculants

Minister Nzimande began by congratulating the 2023 matriculation class for achieving a national Matric pass rate of 82.9%, a significant increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous year. Out of the 715,719 full-time candidates, an impressive 572,983 students successfully passed, with a notable rise in bachelor passes from 38.4% in 2022 to 40.9% in 2023.

Celebrating 30 Years of Democracy in the PSET Sector

As part of the 30th celebration of democracy in South Africa and 12 years of the National Development Plan (NDP), Minister Nzimande highlighted the sector’s achievements in expanding access, improving quality, enhancing efficiency, and increasing responsiveness. Despite progress, he acknowledged the need to address deep-seated class inequalities.

Growth and Transformation in Higher Education

The Minister emphasized the substantial growth in access to higher education, with universities poised to meet the NDP enrolment target of 1.62 million by 2030. Efforts to massify the TVET college system and increase enrolments of black African students were highlighted, marking a significant transformation in South African higher education.

Financial Commitment to Education

Minister Nzimande emphasized the government’s commitment to education spending, exceeding UNESCO benchmarks. Notable increases in funding were directed toward the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), supporting over 70% of university students and 90% of TVET college students. The Minister acknowledged the economic challenges and underscored the importance of continued fiscal support for achieving 2030 targets.

New Universities and Enhancing Responsiveness

President Ramaphosa’s announcement during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) regarding the establishment of a University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and a University for Crime and Policing Studies in Hammanskraal was reiterated. Technical planning for these institutions is underway, with completion expected in 2024. Minister Nzimande also highlighted ongoing efforts to align PSET programs with labor market needs, particularly in science, engineering, and technology fields.

State of Readiness for 2024

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges

  • Classes Commenced: TVET college classes began on January 15, 2024.
  • Enrolment: Headcount enrolment for 2024 is 482,244 students in all programs.
  • Budget: Despite a 3-4% increase in the TVET college budget, real terms indicate a decline due to increased program costs and employee compensation.
  • New Programs: Introduction of new occupational programs, including the successful launch of the Hairdressing program.

University Education

  • Enrolment: Returning student registration commenced on January 2, 2024, with First Time Entering (FTEN) students registering from January 15 to February 15, 2024.
  • Applications: Universities received 270,000 applications for the 2024 academic year, with 67,929 FTEN students projected in scarce skills areas.
  • Late Applications: Some universities accept late applications due to the delayed release of matric results.

Community Colleges

  • Opening Date: Community colleges opened on January 18, 2024.
  • Available Spaces: Approximately 75,000 spaces are available for the 2024 academic year.
  • Programs: Introduction of a new Civic Education program.

National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)

2023 Outstanding Disbursements

  • Recovery: NSFAS reported on the outstanding allowances for 2023 and emphasized the need for swift resolution.
  • Registration Information: Institutions urged to submit accurate registration information to prevent delays in payment processes.
  • 2024 Bursary Applications: As of January 21, 2024, NSFAS received 1,545,822 applications for the 2024 academic year.

2024 Allowances

  • Living Allowance: R16,500 for university students and an increase in TVET living allowance from R6,000 to R10,000.
  • Accommodation Allowance: Introduction of differentiated caps between metro and non-metro areas.
  • Learning Material Allowance: Maximum of R5,460 for all university students.
  • Upfront Payments: NSFAS to process upfront payments of R4.2 billion to institutions before finalizing applications and registrations.

Comprehensive Student Funding Model and Student Debt

  • Missing Middle: Implementation of the first phase of the Comprehensive Student Funding Model to support the missing middle students with loans.
  • Student Debt Recoveries: Ongoing efforts to recover over R40 billion in student debt.

NSFAS Accommodation Pilot Project

  • Accreditation: NSFAS is piloting the accreditation of private student accommodation in universities and TVET colleges.
  • Purpose: Ensuring accessible, decent, safe, and academically conducive student accommodation.

Fraud and Corruption Prevention

  • Measures: Implementation of recommendations to address fraud and corruption within NSFAS.
  • Code of Ethics: Development of a Code of Ethics and Fraud Prevention Policy.
  • Whistle-Blower Hotline: Establishment of a whistle-blower hotline to report fraud and corruption.

Minister Nzimande assured the public of the government’s commitment to the success of the PSET sector, emphasizing collaboration and continued financial support to achieve national development goals. The comprehensive overview provided insights into the strides made and the challenges ahead in South Africa’s higher education landscape.

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Lethabo Ntsoane

Lethabo Ntsoane holds a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of South Africa. He is a Financial Product commentator at Rateweb. He is an expect financial product analyst with years of experience in reviewing products and offering commentary. Lethabo majors in financial news, reviews and financial tips. He can be contacted: Email: lethabo@rateweb.co.za Twitter: @NtsoaneLethabo