Government buildings to house students

Government buildings to house students

Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande says the department is making steady progress in its joint work with the Department of Public Works to identify under-utilized government buildings to be converted into student accommodation.

Presenting the department’s Budget Vote to Parliament on Tuesday, Minister Nzimande acknowledged that the department’s Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) is a major priority for the department.

“Given the large shortages in this area, our universities and colleges will still have to rely on privately owned student accommodation facilities. I however intend undertaking research to establish ownership patterns in this sector, in order to ensure that there is meaningful participation by all South Africans, especially black African owners and participation of youth and women, including co-operatives,” said Minister Nzimande.

The Minister said government continues to fund publicly owned student housing, like the new Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, in Ga-Rankuwa, where the department has allocated R1.2 billion over the next four years for infrastructure development.

He said part of this funding will provide decent housing for the students.

“We have already started with the first 2 000 beds. From next year, students who are now bussed daily to accommodation 50km away in the Pretoria CBD, will be properly housed on campus.”

In 2010, the department received a report from the Ministerial Task Team on Student Housing, which highlighted major challenges in student housing, including maintenance, and a need to build approximately 200 000 new beds for universities alone.

Infrastructure Programme

Minister Nzimande announced that over the period 2016/17 and 2017/18, the department will have injected major new investments for infrastructure development at universities amounting to R6.964 billion.

The amount includes:

· R2.1 billion will be for student housing development;

· R1.475 billion will go to universities to refurbish and update current infrastructure and to deal with backlog maintenance;

· R2 billion is for building Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga;

· R600 million is earmarked for Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University to enable its development as a new university;

· R248.9 million is for infrastructure projects at Historically Disadvantaged Institutions linked to their individual development plans; and

· R300 million is for priority projects to be identified by universities, and which may include improving disability access, well-founded laboratories, security upgrades or infrastructure and communication technology developments.

Skills development

Minister Nzimande also announced the re-establishment of Sector Education and Training Authority (SETAs) from 1 April 2018 until 31 March 2020, as well as the extension of the National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS III) for the same period.

“Whilst the re-establishment of the SETAs does not imply appointing the same individuals into their boards, this will allow the process of extensive consultation, legislative changes and change management in anticipation of the new system to be ushered in on 1 April 2020,” the Minister said.

National Skills Fund

Giving an update on the National Skills Fund (NSF), the Minister said the fund continued to support key developmental projects, while also funding other national priority projects in the areas of ocean economy, growth of the TVET sector, bursaries for scarce and critical skills, as well as artisan development.

Some of the notable funding areas include R2.5 billion towards construction of new TVET college campuses and the refurbishment of two existing campuses.

Another area includes R2 billion committed to the department’s projects over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, aimed at building the capacity of the Post School Education and Training (PSET) system.

The majority of the funding is allocated to the development of the TVET college sub system and includes training of lecturers, strengthening governance and management in the TVET system.

Funding is also focused on building capacity for management of artisan development, as well as support to approximately 15 000 students per annum in scarce and critical skills through a partnership with NSFAS and National Research Foundation (NRF), with a commitment totalling R2.3 billion over the MTEF period.

– SAnews.gov.za