The projects discussed below represent only a fraction of what strategy groups reported on at the Board meeting. Only those against which concrete milestones have been realised, or those over which new concerns were raised or decisions made on 20 March are mentioned.
The Funding Strategy Group (FSG)
Sustainable financial support for students
In addition to the concerns outlined above, the FSG reported that it was in 2018 continuing to monitor outcomes of the pilot at 12 universities and one TVET college, of the Ikusasa Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) pilot. ISFAP is exploring the most workable solution for the missing middle students, whose annual household income is above the NSFAS threshold but does not qualify them for study loans from commercial banks.
Meanwhile, the FSG and the Finance Executives’ Forum (FEF) reiterated a concern expressed in 2017, about the “missing middle” students who had not come forward in the anticipated numbers to apply for the 2017 adjustment subsidy offered by the DHET. It emerged at the Board meeting that the University of Johannesburg had obtained a much higher response rate by contacting parents directly.
Revised Funding Framework for Universities
The DHET’s project on the Revised Funding Framework is likely to be published soon as a policy. The FSG will continue to monitor the project.
University infrastructure including student housing
The FSG would in 2018 also continue to monitor further developments and progress around the DHET’s a) draft macro infrastructure framework – that was presented to USAf’s FEF in November 2017, and also b) advancements following the workshops held with universities in the last quarter of 2017 to explain in detail, the guidelines and funding application documentation. During the FSG meeting of 20 February 2018, DHET officials in attendance had committed to engaging all universities further on application processes with regard to infrastructure funding.
The Funding Strategy Group expressed concern on the slow progress of the DHET Student Housing Task Team and also raised concerns about what appeared to be a prescriptive approach to student housing by the DHET. Photo: courtesy of the North-West University (NWU).
In addition to the above, the FSG would monitor progress on DHET’s Student Housing Task Team that was exploring different models for students housing. The DHET had reported at the FSG meeting of 20 February 2018 that a suggested model of Public-Private Partnerships had turned out to not be appropriate for all institutions, and that other solutions were being investigated in this regard. The FSG had tabled a concern to the DHET, of the slow progress of the Student Housing Task Team and also raised concerns about the emergence of what appeared to be a prescriptive approach by the Department.