Office of the Chief Whip
Book Series: Understanding the ANC Today
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17 October 1997
Under the National Party, higher educational planning and decision making was based on political priorities, which saw the funding of universities, training colleges and technikons allocated in an unjust and inequitable manner
This resulted in institutions which furthered the aims of apartheid and served the constituency of the National Party, receiving the lion`s share of funding, while the "black" universities were underfunded and concentrated on fields of study that did not interfere with the "grand design" of apartheid.
The Higher Education Bill is designed to address the inequities of the past by establishing a single, co-ordinated and planned system of higher education.
The Bill creates conditions for equity by promoting equal access and opportunity for students from all sectors of the population and seeks to redress past discrimination and ensure representivity.
The Council on Higher Education
A key feature of the Bill is the creation of the Council on Higher Education which provides the basis for co-operative governance of higher education institutions.
Composition of the Higher Education Council
It will include representatives from all stakeholders, students, academics principals of each type of institutions, nominees of Nedlac, various concerned government departments, provincial education representatives and members of the public.
It will consist of equal numbers of men and women, with attention given to racial representivity. The Bill also requires that representation be given to people with special needs.
The Education Minister will have to consult the Council on all matters involving major elements of policy framework regarding Higher Education.
The council will advise on distributing subsidies, financial assistance to students and developing the higher education system.
A permanent subcommittee, the Higher Education Quality Committee will be responsible for developing and maintaining standards.
Governance of Higher Education Institutions
The Bill specifies the governance structures of tertiary institutions. As well as the traditional bodies, such as Senate, Council, and SRC, they must establish Institutional Forums The Institutional Forum will advise the Council of the institution on the implementation of the Higher Education Act, race and gender equity policies, selection of candidates for senior management positions, codes of conduct and the building of an institutional culture which promotes tolerance and respect for fundamental human rights.
The Bill respects the autonomy of Higher Education Institutions to set their own criteria for admissions, with the proviso that the admissions policy may not unfairly discriminate in any way, and which must also provide appropriate measures for the redress of past inequalities
As laid out in the Bill, the Minister must determine policy on the finding of tertiary institutions in a fair and transparent manner.
The allocation of funds must include appropriate measures for redressing past inequalities.
Public funding for tertiary institutions will be conditional on their councils providing a strategic plan and evaluating performance against the goals of the plan.
In order to improve the public accountability of higher institutions, a report on the overall governance, and an audited statement of income and expenditure, a balance sheet and a principal`s report must be submitted to the Minister annually.
Private Higher Education Institutions
The Bill provides for the registration of private higher education institutions. It provides a framework to ensure that such institutions have the necessary infrastructure and resources to provide quality education. They will be required to offer programmes accredited though procedures established by the South African Qualifications Authority, via the Higher Education Quality Committee.
Key Political Messages