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Delays in new funding formula for universities

The Secretariat of the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) revealed this week that its new funding framework for higher education institutions (HEIs) would not be implemented during the current financial year.

The new funding framework was developed after research revealed the uneven levels of funding provided to the two major public higher education institutions (HEIs), the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Polytechnic of Namibia.

Unam received N$870 million for the 2014/15 financial years, while the Polytechnic of Namibia (PoN) received only N$449 million, according to the 2015/16 budget allocation for the Ministry of Higher Education, Training and Innovation.

Earlier this year, before the education ministry was split in two, the former minister of education, Dr David Namwandi said the funding framework – which was approved by Cabinet last year – would be implemented during the 2014/15 financial year.

This week the Deputy Director of the NCHE Secretariat, responsible for developing the new funding framework, Bertha Njembo, said the formula would only be implemented during the 2016/17 financial year, and not this year as earlier announced.

This is due to a delay in gathering the required data from all public HEIs, needed for calculating the estimated subsidies.

Njembo said, “Currently we are still collecting data to be used in determining the allocation of funding to public higher education institutions, which will only be used in the 2016/17 financial year.”

Once the NCHE has finalised the data collection process they will have consultative meetings with the two HEIs, regarding the agreed amounts, before forwarding the budget proposal to the Minister of Higher Education, Training and Innovation, Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi.

It is widely expected that the introduction of the new funding framework will be a transparent and equitable system for determining the allocation of resources to public universities.

Subsequent to the approval of the new framework, the NCHE designed a Higher Education Management Information System (HEMIS). It will be used to collect data from both public and private HEIs for calculating the estimated subsidies to these institutions, as well as for the production of the first-ever Namibia Higher Education Yearbook.

During 2014, the NCHE Secretariat worked closely with the HEIs to consolidate the funding formula and HEMIS, as well as adjusting the existing data collection systems to conform to the funding framework and HEMIS requirements.

The NCHE said government will also – in the course of the 2016/17 financial year – introduce the new public Higher Education Institutions Tuition Fees Adjustment Policy to ensure a fair distribution of the burden of covering operational costs between the government and taxpayer on the one hand, as well as parents and students on the other.

For oversight purposes, NCHE established a Funding Framework and Higher Education Management Information System Committee, in accordance with Article 14 (1) of the Higher Education Act (Act 26 of 2003), to, among others, advise on budgetary allocations, using the new funding formula.

It is understood the amount the public universities derive from tuition fees will affect the level of government subsidy to the said institutions.

Food insecurity at university campuses a growing threat

First-ever colloquium on food insecurity on university campuses presented

Food insecurity on university campuses in South Africa has come to the fore as one of the more pressing subjects that needs to be tackled to ensure the continuing education of disadvantaged students across the country.

On 14 August 2015, the University of the Free State (UFS) will host the first higher education colloquium in the country, on food insecurity on university campuses.  The one-day colloquium will take place during the Arts and Social Justice Week, in collaboration with the UFS’sufs Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice. Best practices will be shared, exploring the available research on student food insecurity at institutions of higher education. Click here to access the preliminary programme.

Food insecurity has emerged as a pressing social justice issue affecting students countrywide. Action needs to be taken to promote the academic success of students, who will ultimately contribute to the country’s economic growth.One of the primary focus areas of the colloquium will be to establish a common practice to address this need.  Universities leaders, staff from wellness and social work departments, and SRC members from across the country who have been invited, and are expected to attend, are the University of Pretoria, the Tshwane University of Technology, North West University, UNISA, and the Central University of Technology.

Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, will participate in a panel discussion alongside Ruda Landman and Prof Edelweiss Wentzel-Viljoen (HPCSA). This promises to be an inspiring meaningful dialogue, by asking the difficult question:  How do we change the food insecurity situation at universities?
The UFS is currently the country’s leading university in addressing food insecurity on all its campuses through its flagship No Student Hungry Bursary programme, which has funded more than 500 students since it was established in 2011.



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