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Thursday, 24 September 2015 08:22

Higher education talks to raise sector standards

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Transformation of the Higher Education and Training sphere of learning, student accommodation and funding would be among the key issues to come under the spotlight during the 2015 Higher Education Summit.

Blade Nzimande

The Department of Higher Education and Training will from 15 – 17 October 2015 host the 2nd National Higher Education Transformation Summit at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre.

The summit, which follows the 2010 summit held at the Cape Peninsula University, aims to bring together key stakeholders for a critical dialogue on the higher education system.

Briefing the media on the summit on Tuesday, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande highlighted that the summit will provide the opportunity for the sector to review progress that has been made regarding transformation imperatives that were identified at the previous summit in the National Development Plan (NDP) and in the White Paper and Post-School Education and Training.

It will also create space and opportunities for a range of voices to be heard and perspectives to be debated.

“It will move beyond a perspective of transformation that focuses largely on unequal demographic representation in the sector, to a deeper interrogation of the range of issues that underlie inequality and to a focus on the issues that impact on quality in the sector.

“Importantly, the summit will provide the space for re-imagining higher education transformation, tackling the difficult issues that are currently explosive on our campuses and building a vision for what a South African university should look like today and in the future,” Minister Nzimande said.

A wide range of higher education stakeholders including representatives from the university, relevant government departments, statutory and non-statutory organizations, civil society organizations, research organisations and unions are expected to participate in the summit.

Other key issues to be discussed include changes in the size and demographic diversity of the university sector, building an integrated post-school system, improving student success, research and innovation, staffing the universities including support staff insourcing, as well as curriculum and learning issues.

Topics such as community engagement and internationalisation will also be open to discussion.

Achievements since 2010 summit

The Minister said since the 2010 summit, there have been many changes in institutions and in the system as a whole that needed to be reflected on and exchange views about.

Some of these include major reviews of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, the provision and conditions of student housing and the university funding.

Public comments on a draft policy framework for university differentiation that was released for comments are currently being analysed.

“The department has developed the Staffing South African Universities Framework to ensure that in the future the number and quality of academics is suitable and that the academic profession becomes more representative in terms of race and gender,” Minister Nzimande said.

Last modified on Thursday, 24 September 2015 08:48