Minister of Higher Education and Training (DHET), Naledi Pandor, expressed her concern at the level of university dropouts and poor leadership in some of the institutions of higher learning.
Pandor was speaking at the 2018 Siyaphumelela conference held at Wanderers Club in Johannesburg.
She told guests that the DHET supports the development of a strong public higher education system in South Africa, and seeks to do so through a range of steering mechanisms including policy, planning/programmes and funding.
“In recent years, the earmarked Teaching Development Grants have enabled universities to implement innovative strategies to improve student success, including comprehensive First Year Experience programmes. The Foundation Provision programmes have enabled students to access extended curriculum support. As a result of these and other strategies, we have seen an improvement in student success in some of our universities.
However, we cannot be satisfied with these levels of success, and we have to intensify our efforts,” Pandor said.
She said students who are inadequately funded experience great challenges in regard to food security, suitable accommodation and ability to obtain textbooks and other resources.
“It is the poor black working class students that are affected and there is a need to develop models of funding and support that address their needs.
Government has chosen to introduce a full-cost bursary scheme for students whose family income is under R350,000 a year. We are implementing policy the ANC adopted in 2007. I am optimistic that this new DHET bursary scheme will transform student success,” Pandor said.
The annual conference is a central aspect of the Siyaphumelela programme that is aimed at improving capacity at South African universities to use data analytics to improve student success.
The conference also provides a platform for international and local experts and practitioners to discuss evidence-based practices and national systemic interventions aimed at student success. – Sowetan