Government has intensified efforts to expand South Africa's post school education system. This has been done by implementing a range of strategies aimed at increasing learning opportunities for an increasing number of school-leavers. These strategies have included investing over R6.8 billion in upgrading and expanding the educational infrastructure across the country's 23 higher education institutions since 2006. The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has committed a further R3.8 billion for infrastructure expansion during the 2012 and 2013 financial years.
Notwithstanding these investments, the capacity of the higher education sector remains inadequate to accommodate the increasing number of school leavers. With an annual average growth rate of 4.7%, the number of enrolments in higher education has increased from 603 000 in 2001 to 938 201 a decade later.
It is against this background that Government took a decision to create two new universities in the provinces of Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape - the only provinces without a university. This decision should be viewed in the context of Government's long-term commitment to expanding the country's higher education capacity.
The Minister of Higher Education and Training appointed two Task Teams to investigate the feasibility and to provide advice on the possible models for the establishment of the new universities. The Task Teams' reports were submitted to the Minister after which a consolidated report was submitted to the Council on Higher Education for advice, as prescribed by the Higher Education Act (No. 101 of 1997). Subsequently, the DHET put in place the required project management capacity to take forward the planning process for the establishment of the new universities.
Project Governance and Management
As the project sponsor the Minister of Higher Education and Training and the Director-General of the DHET assume overall responsibility and accountability for the successful establishment of new universities.
The DHET has appointed the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS) to project manage the development and establishment of the two planned Universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. To this purpose WITS (through its Campus Development and Planning Unit) has constituted the Project Management Team (PMT) that is responsible and accountable for the delivery of the agreed implementation plan.
The DHET has the overall responsibility for policy, overall direction of the project and for the academic architecture that will define the new institutions. A Technical Integration Committee has been established at operational level between the DHET and the Project Management Team to establish the planning parameters for the new institutions, including the vision, academic architecture, location, costs, phasing and other relevant considerations pertinent to their spatial and physical planning, as well as their operation.
In order to further support the integrated planning (academic, operational and physical development) and establishment of the two universities, the DHET has appointed an overarching Project Steering Committee (PSC), consisting of the DHET, the University of the Witwatersrand, key stakeholders such as the Premier's Office and the Institute for Higher Education in each province, and selected representatives of the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of Pretoria (UP). The PSC meets every 3 months to review reports on the Implementation Plan.
Project Milestones and Timeline
Several significant milestones have been achieved since the Minister of Higher Education and Training appointed the Task Teams to establish the feasibility and explore the models for establishing the new universities in March 2010. These include the announcement by President Jacob Zuma on 5th of July 2012 that the new universities for the Mpumalanga and Northern Cape provinces will be located in Nelspruit and Kimberley respectively; the publication of the The Development Framework for New Universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga Provinces; confirmation of funding by National Treasury for the 2013/14 - 2015/16 MTEF period; and the completion of a Full Preliminary Programme Qualification Mix.
Milestones and Timelines
Funding for the New Universities
National Treasury has confirmed an allocation of more than R2 billion over the 2013/14 - 2015/16 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the development of the new universities. This follows the submission of comprehensive feasibility studies that were completed for each university towards the end of 2012. The feasibility studies provided detailed costing of the capital and operational expenditure requirements over this period.
Total MTEF Allocation Confirmed by National Treasury (capital and operational)
R 659 000
R1 166 314
R2 125 314