Parliament, Thursday, 2 February 2023 – The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation has successfully concluded its two-day oversight visit to Limpopo. The committee was in the province to assess institutions of higher learning’s readiness for the 2023 academic year.

The committee was concerned with the slow pace of the registration process and low applications from prospective students wishing to study at the University of Venda. The university informed the committee that students could still find placement in February and will assist students to catch up with their work.

The committee was also concerned with the lack of cleanliness on campus, while acknowledging that work is being done to renovate old residences and build new ones, which the committee welcomes. The committee also recommended that university management find a way to maintain and clean residences more effectively, but cautioned that ultimately students themselves must take personal responsibility for their living conditions. The committee urged university management and stakeholders such as organised labour and institutional forums to work together to ensure an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said: “Everyone has a role to play and everyone must play their role effectively.” The Chairperson continued to say that the work done at universities must also contribute solutions to issues such as load shedding.

The committee was concerned that the Venda university campus did not inspire confidence due to the lack of cleanliness and such an image could negatively impact on prospective students’ desire to study there.

The Student Representative Council (SRC) also alleged that there have been instances where the university refused to issue students with their final certificate confirming their degree, even though they were funded throughout their studies through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The SRC also highlighted the plight of students on campus who cannot access wifi and said there are not enough generators for all residences.

The committee also visited Vhembe Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College and members were impressed with the maintenance and cleanliness of its Makwerela Campus. The committee also noted that there is room for improvement in certain areas of the campus. The college has a student population of about 23 000 and 98 per cent of its critical staff positions are filled.

The committee is of the view that the TVET college is ready for the 2023 academic year. The committee was impressed with the SRC leadership, which is led by women. The committee said the Vhembe college sets the bar for educating young people who go on to become active participants in the economy.

The committee further proposed an ad hoc committee comprising management and the SRC to work together on thorny issues to find mutually agreeable solutions. The committee is pleased that the issue of relating to the lecturer/student ratio is being addressed. Meanwhile, the TVET college’s dropout rate is a concern and the committee recommended that measures be put in place to deal with the problem.

The committee also visited the campus clinic and was satisfied with its operations. It further recommended that the clinic needs to improve awareness around mental health issues on campus and encouraged more dialogue to assist those going through mental health problems. The committee further recommended that the college find creative ways to increase the student population by launching more awareness programmes and recruitment drives.

The committee called for all stakeholders within the Department of Higher Education and Training and NSFAS portfolio to continue to engage and resolve any outstanding issues that may threaten the successful start of the 2023 academic year.


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