South Africa : Minister assesses progress of renovations at Wits University

By Gabi Khumalo

Johannesburg - Education Minister Naledi Pandor visited the University of Witwatersrand on Thursday to check on whether the investments made by the department for infrastructure development were being properly utilised.

In September 2007/08 to 2009/10, the minister approved R350 million to remodel, extend and refurbish and existing building to provide additional teaching space.

R200 million was funded by government and R150 million from the private resources of the university.

The money is also being used to complete the fourth quadrant of an engineering building and upgrade existing science laboratories and provide additional space for science programmes.

"I'm excited that we are able to achieve the objectives we set out in improving the infrastructure and efficiency of the higher education system," Minister Pandor said.

Government funding of the public higher education system has risen sharply in recent years and is expected to continue to increase at rates above inflation. In 2007/08 the total income of the public higher education system from all sources was R33 billion.

Minister Pandor noted that this figure would rise to R43 billion in 2009/10. "This is an increase of R10 billion over this three-year period."

The funds are made up of 40 percent government funding, 30 percent from student fees and 30 percent from private income from donations and investments.

The minister said funding was no longer being directed at the staffing and operational costs of universities, but at projects designed to improve the infrastructure and efficiency of the universities.

This was expected to improve the graduate outputs of selected academic programmes. - BuaNews