The Democratic Alliance affirmed that about 16 out of the 26 SA universities (62%) are facing critical financial challenges which could lead to financial distress in the 2017/18 year if no effort is made to address it.
The DA stated this in a reply to a DA parliamentary question, pointing out the extent of the financial crisis faced by universities across the country.
The party noted that the degree of financial bankruptcy experienced by these 16 universities is projected to be R3.97 billion for the same financial year. It blamed it on the modeling conducted by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) which had caused the under-funding of the SA universities for decades.
The universities in question, ranked in order of deficit size starting with the largest, are:
- Walter Sisulu University
- University of Limpopo
- University of KwaZulu-Natal
- University of the Witwatersrand
- Tshwane University of Technology
- Rhodes University
- University of Fort Hare
- Cape Peninsula University of Technology
- Central University of Technology
- Vaal University of Technology
- University of Cape Town
- University of the Western Cape
- Mangosuthu University of Technology
- North West University
- University of Johannesburg
- University of Venda
DA shadow minister of Higher Education and Training, Prof Belinda Bozzoli, said his party was able to identify R2.73 billion in the 2016/17 budget meant to assist poor students as well as give SA universities enough subsidies to pay the bills denied by the ANC through its refusal to agree to the proposal.
He said this directly contributed to the “the dire financial position universities are now facing.”
“Our universities have been facing an uphill financial battle with no end to this crisis in sight as the Minister of Higher Education and Training tinkers with policy solutions to mitigate this impeding destruction of our university sector which will leave students in a worse off position that they are already in.”
Parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education has heard that 19 SA universities could become dysfunctional in 2018 if a 0% fee increase is carried over for a second year.
There have recent news reports of financial crises ailing SA universities, and how they would crash if certain financial changes are not taken.
Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced the possibility of increasing university tuition fee by 6% so it would be in line with consumer inflation, which is 6.3%.
Several universities have already agreed to the decision saying it would help institutions regain balance and fend for their financial needs.
However, President Jacob Zuma altered education department’s decision to increase fees. Zuma instructed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to find the money to accommodate the 0% fee increase for students for next year.
The president refused the fees increment so as to avoid any uprising by student bodies who have already issued warning that it would embark on protests that will be worse than last year’s nationwide uprising if fees are increased.
Though shocked by the President’s decision despite signals of collapse, the Treasury, the higher education department and university leaders had to scramble to fund the shortfall.
The DA on the other hand said it had been making submissions to the Commission for Higher Education to seek ways to address the financial situation of SA universities.
Bozzoli added that the DA will continue seeking a long-term solution to the problem of affordable quality higher education. Sadly, the longer the ANC waits to take responsibility for this catastrophe, the more difficult the solution will be.