REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON
HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING ON ITS MEETING WITH THE
The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training, having convened a special meeting with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) on 01 February 2012 reports as follows:
The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training convened a special meeting with CPUT management at the Bellville Campus on 01 February 2012. The meeting was arranged with the specific purpose of engaging on the issues of registration and enrolments and fee increment in 2012.
was one of the four higher education institutions located in the
The CPUT offered various undergraduate and postgraduate qualifications such as the national certificate, national higher certificate, national diplomas, B Tech programmes, M Tech programmes and D Tech programmes. In particular, the institution was focusing on offering programmes in engineering sciences, marine sciences, and medical science.
As part of its effective oversight and monitoring of higher education and training institutions, the Committee convened a special meeting with the senior management and student leadership of CPUT on 01 February 2012. The main objective of the meeting was to obtain an insight into the enrolment and registration process for the 2012 academic year in the institution. In addition, the Committee wanted to understand the factors that had led to a mass demonstration by students over the fee increment.
3. Composition of the Delegation
3.1 The Parliamentary delegation
The multi-party delegation of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training comprised of Adv I Malale: Chairperson (ANC), Ms N Gina (ANC), Mr S Makhubele (ANC), Mr C Moni (ANC), Ms W Nelson (ANC), Mr S Radebe (ANC), Dr J Kloppers-Lourens (DA), and Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA).
Apologies: Mr A Mpontshane (IFP) and Mr J Dikobo (AZAPO).
Support staff: Mr A Kabingesi (Committee Secretary), Ms M Modiba (Researcher), Mr M Lukani: (Communications Officer) and Ms Y Cele (Committee Assistant).
Management: Prof A Staak: Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr C Nhlapho: Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Innovation & Partnership, Mr D Bleazard: Director Management Information System, Mr V van der Linde: Executive Director Finance, Mr N Ntsbaba: Acting Registrar, Ms C Njoli-Motale: Executive Dean Student Affairs, Mr N Jacobs: Director Marketing & Communication.
Student Representative Council: Mr W Hanekom: Business Faculty Representative Wellington Campus, Ms M Rorich: Chairperson Wellington Campus, Ms M Koester: Deputy Chairperson Wellington Campus, Mr M Sityoshwana: Chairperson Bellville Campus, Mr O Mazele: Chairperson Cape Town Campus, Mr S Nofemele: President Central SRC, Mr B Ndevu: Treasurer General Central SRC, Mr L Mani: Deputy President Central SRC, Mr L Ngema: Deputy Chairperson Mowbray Campus, Mr S Buso: Residence and Transport Welfare Mowbray Campus, Mr M Gqokoma: Secretary-General Cape Town Campus, Mr M Gogo: Engineering Faculty Representative Bellville Campus and Mr B Ntlebi: Finance & Projects Officer Mowbray Campus.
3.3 Department of Higher Education and Training
4. Summary of presentations
4.1 Presentation by the Acting Vice-Chancellor
Prof A Staak: Acting Vice-Chancellor made a short presentation on matters that led to the mass demonstration by students:
It was noted that the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Prof S Mazwi-Tanga was on sick leave and was unable to attend the meeting with the Committee; hence Prof Staak was the Acting Vice-Chancellor until further notice.
November 2011, the Council of the institution held a meeting to discuss the fee
increment for 2012. At the time the meeting was convened, the new
The institution conducted a benchmarking exercise to determine the fee increment in 2011. In the Council meeting of the 26 November 2012, two leaders of the local SRCs were part of the meeting. The meeting resolved that fees be increased for the 2012 academic year to maintain the financial sustainability of the institution which was currently deteriorating.
Unfortunately, by the time the decision of the fee increment was taken, the majority of students had left the institution for the holidays. The information regarding fee increment was posted on the institutionís website. Unfortunately, the majority of students only became aware of the fee increment in January during the registration period. On 12 January 2012, a special meeting with the SRC was convened to discuss the fee increment. The students were concerned with the fee increment and demanded that registration be suspended until the dispute was settled. The management refused to suspend registration as it would interfere with the academic calendar of the institution.
On the first week of registration, there was a small protest by students at the Cape Town Campus and registration was disrupted. The students continued to demand that registration be suspended. Fortunately, there were no disruptions experienced at the Bellville Campus. Security was called to prevent further disruptions, registration proceeded and more than 20 000 students were registered.
Management had a meeting with the SRC on 25 January 2012 to discuss the upfront payment required for students to register at the institution. The upfront payment required for students was R3400 and R5000 for students staying in residences. The upfront payment was necessary for the institutionís operating expenditures since the allocation from the Department came only in April, at the beginning of the new financial year. The 11% increase in registration fee was sufficient for the sustainability of the institution since operating expenditures of the institution had increased by 87% over the past five years and exceeded its income.
A major concern of the institution was students who fell outside of the threshold limit of the NSFAS and could not afford to pay their fees. These students owed a huge debt to the institution and were unable to furnish it. Measures were put in place to assist students who could not afford to pay the upfront payment by allowing them to register and pay at a later stage.
4.2 CPUT Enrolments 2010 Ė 2013
Mr D Bleazard: Director Management Information System led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:
The objectives of the enrolment plan of the institution included to reflect on the institutionís pass rate and throughput rate, to look at specific study areas earmarked for growth and to relate the targets of the institutionís enrolment history and projections.
In terms of enrolment targets, student headcounts increased from 30 958 in 2009 to 33 420 in 2013, full time equivalent enrolments increased from 22 690 to 25 064, first time entering undergraduates increased from 8 244 to 9 553. The institution planned to phase out distance enrolments by 2013.
In terms of graduation targets, an increase from 7 771 in 2009 to 8 521 in 2013 was projected with special focus on scarce skills. The institution targeted 135 Honours, 117 Research Masters and 24 Doctoral graduates by 2013. The proportion of the institutionís contribution to the national scarce skills graduate output in 2014 should be 12% Engineering, 3.4% Initial Teacher Education. 7.6% Animal & Human Health and 3.5% Life & Physical Sciences.
The success rate for the institutionís FET (Full-Time Equivalent) pass rate should increase from 78.6% in 2009 to 80.1% in 2013. The graduation rate should be 25% in 2013 well above the 20% national average.
The majority of students were enrolled in Science Engineering & Technology (SET) 50.6%, Business Management 28%, Education 12.4% and Other Humanities 9% for the 2012 academic year.
The FTE pass rate was 77% in 2011 and it was projected to be 79% in the current academic year. The FTE pass rate per group included; 86% White, 73% African, 80% Coloured, and 77% Indian in 2010.
4.3 Application and Registration Process for 2012
Mr N Ntsbaba: Acting Registrar led the presentation which highlighted the following key issues:
The current process of the 2012 student intake was in operation. The institution used the manual system of application, admission and selection of students. Upfront rejection of students who did not meet the minimum requirements was communicated to students through letters of acceptance.
The challenges of the institution in terms of registration included the multi-campus environment which delayed the processing of applications, large volumes of applications for limited space, 31 493 applications received for 8 500 spaces, fraudulent certificates and interference by the SRC.
The recommended action for the 2013 registration included the establishment of an effective online application, automated selection based on pre-set admission criteria, upfront verification of certificates and the elimination of walk-in applicants.
4.4 Meeting with the Student Representative Council
Mr M Sityoshwana: Chairperson Bellville Campus, Mr O Mazele: Chairperson Cape Town Campus, Mr S Nofemele: President Central SRC presented on behalf of the SRC:
challenge of the SRC which led to mass demonstrations by students was the issue
of the fee increment. The SRC was not given sufficient time to present the
perspective of students on this issue. The SRC leadership was given observer
status in the Council meeting of the 26 November 2011 owing to delay tactics by
management in establishing a
The Council meeting agreed on an 11% increase in tuition fees for the 2012 academic year. Unfortunately, students were not informed earlier of the fee increment and only became aware during the registration period.
A special meeting with the Council and management was requested by the SRC leadership at the beginning of the registration period to discuss the issue of fee increment. The Council did not honour the invitation of the SRC. †The students mandated the SRC leadership to organise mass demonstrations against the fee increment.
The SRC was concerned that the upfront payment increased by 47% and students were not informed in advance of the increment. The NSFAS did not assist students enrolled for B Tech programmes and they were unable to register owing to outstanding debts.
The SRC leadership was concerned that management was withholding a court interdict against the leaders of the SRC and felt that they were not free to express their opinion in meetings.
The library of the institution had insufficient computers and printers for the 14 000 students and this affected learning. Student leadership tried on several occasions to request management to extend library hours in order to help students improve their performance. However, management did not honour their request.
Management of the institution promised the student leadership that there would be no fee increment until the infrastructure and student support services were improved.
The management sent out letters informing prospective students about fee increment last year before the meeting of the Council was scheduled. This showed dishonesty on the part of management since the decision to increase fees was already taken before an official meeting for confirmation took place.
The students were dissatisfied with the closure of five residences last year by management on the instruction of Council as a result of managementís failure to renovate the residences for several years.† The shortage of accommodation was a serious concern of the student leadership at the beginning of every academic year. The allocation of residences was no longer based on student seniority or merit. Students who afforded upfront payments were given the best residences, while poorer students were disadvantaged.
5. Committee Observations
The Committee was extremely concerned that poor students were obliged to pay upfront payment before they could be admitted to the institution. It was noted that the Department had allocated more than R200 million to assist disadvantaged students who could not afford to pay the required upfront payment.
It emerged that the institution allocated three weeks for the registration period. It was noted that this period was too long and the institution should develop effective measures to ensure that period of registration was reduced.
It was noted with concern that the NSFAS deposited money into the accounts of students late during the year and students used the money to fulfill their social needs rather than to pay their fees.
It emerged that insufficient consultation and communication to students were the main causes of disruptions during the registration period. Management of the institution acknowledged that late communication of the fee increment was their fault.
The Committee emphasised that financial exclusions of poor students based on lack of resources was unacceptable, irrespective of the institutions situation. It was further noted that higher education institutions received support from government and they had no right to exclude poor, academically deserving students.
The institution was commended for having partnerships with SETAs on placement of students for experiential learning. It was further noted that the institution had placement offices in all its faculties to assist students to get into industry.
It emerged that there was a Financial Exclusion Committee responsible for making arrangements for those students who could not afford to furnish their debts.
The student leadership was dissatisfied with the abnormal residence increment approved by Council. According to the student leaders, the increment would disadvantage poorer students since the cost had drastically risen to R30 000 in some residences.
The meeting of the Committee with management and student leadership of CPUT was meant to obtain different perspectives on the subject of fee increment for the 2012 academic year. From the interactions with these two stakeholders, it was observed that the institution had financial difficulties in sustaining its operating expenditures owing to an operating deficit that had been escalating since 2004. In the process, the institution was not able to renovate residences for the past 10 years and this led to the closure of five residences. As a result, this increased the demand for student accommodation, and the institution was only able to open two new residences which were not sufficient to accommodate the growing student population.
Of grave concern to the student leadership of the institution was the unaffordability of the 11% increase in upfront payments and the 47% increase in tuition fees. According to student leadership, the increment would disadvantage many poor students since the majority of them depended on the NSFAS to finance their studies. Insufficient communication and consultation remained a serious concern for student leadership especially on decisions that affected students.
In terms of academic affairs, the institution continued with the registration process for 2012 despite the disruption that tarnished the image of the institution. The institution had put a mechanism in place to improve its graduation and throughput rate for 2013, to contribute to the economy of the country.
The Committee, having met with the management and student leadership of CPUT, recommends the following:
To increase access to higher education and training institutions, the Department in conjunction with NSFAS should be supplied with a database of financially needy students by all higher education and training institutions in advance, so that allocations for needy students can be made prior to the registration period, to eliminate financial exclusion.
The Committee reiterates its position that no academically deserving poor student should be excluded in any public higher education institution due to indebtedness to the institution.
The Department should send letters of reminder to HEIs to inform academically deserving students that they do not need to pay upfront payment to register at a HEI.
The Minister should setup a Task Team that will monitor registration process across all HEIs and intervene on matters that lead to dispute between management and students.
The withholding of results by higher education institutions with the objective of recouping money owed to them by poor students should be reviewed. Higher education institutions should find other alternatives of procuring fees from students other than withholding results.
The allocation of financial aid for NSFAS bursary beneficiaries should be implemented during the academic year and the funds should be directly deposited into the higher education institutionís accounts.
The student leadership of higher education institutions should not engage in mass demonstrations that disrupt institutional activities at times of disagreement with the management of the institution. Further consultations should be pursued with the Department and even the Committee when there are lock outs with management.
The management of CPUT should lift all court interdicts against student leadership and a consensus should be reached to create a way forward for the institution. The dispute resolution committee of the institution should settle the dispute between the two parties.
The proposed funding model of higher education institutions should place special emphasis on institutions with the majority of disadvantaged students. This will increase the financial capacity of these institutions to assist those students who are unable to make upfront payment.
Report to be considered