17 Oct 1997

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

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.

Quality Control

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.

Admissions Policy

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

Key Political Messages

  • South Africa will have, for the first time, a co-ordinated Higher Education
    Policy which will aim at providing quality higher education to all sectors
    of the population.
  • Imbalances of the past will be addressed, setting and maintaining standards
    of excellence
  • The Higher Education Quality Committee will ensure that there is uniformity
    between institutions so that all institutions provides qualifications that
    are of equal merit.
  • For the first time, higher education policy will be formulated as a
    result of consultation of all stakeholders, as represented on the Council
    for Higher Education.
  • The ANC recognises the critical importance of higher education in order
    to provide our nation and our economy with the skills to take our place
    as leaders in our region and the world.
  • The National Party Government spent vast amounts of money on building
    institutions that were inefficient, and which failed to provide our people
    with the necessary skills to be competitive in a global economy.
  • Through a co-ordinated and strategic approach to higher education,
    with the necessary legal and institutional framework in place, we can develop
    a higher education system that will compete with institutions the world
    over, while providing for the special needs of our country.