South Africa’s Higher Education and Training Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande announced a major new investment in university infrastructure which will see historically disadvantaged institutions get almost R7 billion.
The amount as learnt, will be spent on new student housing, laboratories, communications technology, and other essential facilities, as well as essential maintenance and the further expansion of the new universities.
This includes R1 billion per year for the new Mpumalanga University and Sol Plaatjie University in the Northern Cape. Also, Nzimande specified that R2.5 billion will be spent over the next five years at the historically disadvantaged universities.
Precisely, the R6.964 billion additional infrastructure spending Nzimande announced will be allocated as listed below.
- R 2.1 billion for student housing
- R1.475 billion to all universities towards refurbishing and updating current infrastructure and to deal with maintenance backlogs
- R 1 billion per year for the further development of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatjie universities
- R600 million to the new Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University to further strengthen its development
- R240 million for priority infrastructure projects
- R248 million for new infrastructure projects at historically disadvantaged institutions
- R300 million for priority projects identified by universities, including improved access for disabled staff and students, laboratories, security, and communication technology development
The minister specified that none of the spending will go towards repairing or replacing buildings damaged and vandalized over the past 18 months by groups claiming to represent protesting students.
With that foregoing, Minister Nzimande proclaimed that “government is committed to strengthening, developing, and broadening access to universities.”
That, he said, “is visible in the doubling of student numbers over the past 20 years.
“…We have opened a major route to empowerment through knowledge and skills which can benefit both individuals and the economy.
But access is just one side of the coin, we have always been aware that we must also strengthen the institutions, not least by increasing our infrastructure spending,” added the Minister.