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R2bn boost for poorest universities

The Department of Higher Education and Training plans to spend about R2 billion to improve historically disadvantaged universities, in the next five years.

Minister Blade Nzimande said a technical team and reference group, which was made up of members of the university and the department, was in the final stages of putting together a development plan for the historically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs).

He said the group was appointed in February and was “modelling the financial impact of the different recommendations and a draft revised funding framework for approval, gazetting and further consultation”.

Nzimande said the grant, which would be introduced next month, would have a R410 million budget a year for the next five years.

“It is meant exclusively for historically disadvantaged institutions so they can be able to address what they see as priorities. It is very important.

“They will develop business plans and apply for this money on the basis of the needs that they have,” he said.

Nzimande said the intention behind the grant was to try to improve the quality of education and resources.

“We really need to up our game in issues of backlog, issues of facilities, issues or quality in the HDIs because they are behind.

“We hope this will lay a foundation for us, someday not long from now, to then do away with the concept ‘HDI’.”

He said they were looking at eight out of the 26 universities.

“The way we will divide the money will depend on the business plans that they have and also the need. Even the HDIs are not the same.”

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