Address by the Deputy Minister of Higher Education and Training, Mr Buti Manamela, to the Central University of Technology – Welkom Campus, Graduation Ceremony, 4 April 2019
Chancellor of the CUT – Madam Justice Mahube Molemela
Members of the CUT Council
Vice Chancellor and Principal of the CUT – Prof Henk de Jager
DVC’s, Deans and Academic staff
SRC Presidents and student leadership
Parents and graduates
I am excited when I participate in graduation ceremonies and thank you for giving me this opportunity to address you today. I believe that achievement should always be recognised and celebrated. This is a special day for our graduates and for their parents and families. It is the culmination of hard work, long hours of studying and applying yourself to your selected area of study.
Today we are here to celebrate the achievements of the graduates of the Humanities, Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology.
Your graduation certificate, which was conferred upon you, is not a mere piece of paper. It represents much more. It signifies the struggles and sacrifices that you and others made to get you to this point. It is the culmination of a goal that you set for yourself.
It is an admission into your desired profession or career path. It transmits your aspirations and desires: to escape poverty; to create a better life for you and your family; to be a recognised professional in your chosen field; to make your mark in your community and society. Your graduation certificate is also an important entrance ticket into the labour market.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, commonly known as the OECD, in their Education at a Glance 2018 Report, highlighted that tertiary education pays off in the South African labour market for both men and women. The report noted the employment rate for tertiary educated adults was 83% which is almost as high as the rate across OECD countries on average. University education is important for South Africa and therefore government is investing significantly to improve access and quality.
We have expanded access by building new universities in Mpumalanga and the Northern Cape. Our university system is also expanding through the provision of the fee free higher education for students from poor and working class families. In 2019 our 26 public universities will provide access to approximately 210 801 new entrants. Government funding to assist new and returning qualifying, registered university students increased from R14.19 billion in 2018 to R24 billion in 2019.
Through the provision of bursaries and allowances for meals, transport, accommodation and books, government is providing the necessary means for students to access higher education and to graduate and succeed. We are also expanding the quality of our university system.
The University Capacity Development Programme which is being implemented by the DHET and universities strengthens the capacity of institutions in three areas: Student Development, Staff Development and Programme/Curriculum Development. This programme represents a significant contribution by Government and its partners. About one billion rand is being invested annually to support its implementation, with the bulk of the funds going to universities to support the implementation of approved University Capacity Development Plans.
It is transformative in nature and seeks to transform teaching, learning, researching and leading towards enhanced quality, success and equity in universities. In terms of the staff development focus area, the UCDP is putting in place a range of initiatives to support the professional development of academic and professional staff at all levels of the academic and professional career continuum, from assisting to identify, recruit and nurture new talent to enabling capacity development of university leaders and managers.
Functional infrastructure is essential across our university system.
The Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) supports this development across our public institutions. The grant was first introduced in the 2007/08 financial year, and since then government has invested R20.158 billion into infrastructure development across our institutions, with a special focus on dealing with the infrastructure backlogs at historically disadvantaged institutions.
The Central University of Technology has been a beneficiary of these funds. While there is still much to be done, we can be proud of the developments at all our institutions. A further allocation of R8.5 billion is being invested over the 2018/19 – 2020/21 cycle of funding.
The university system is also seeing a growth in post-graduate enrolments. In 2017 we had 173 441 postgraduate students in the system, and the number is expected to grow to 185 684 in 2019 based on the approved midterm enrolment planning targets. This is an annual growth rate of approximately 2.5%.
So as you graduate today, I hope that this is not the last time that you will graduate. Please do consider post-graduate studies. Continue on your learning pathway. Challenge yourself to further your studies, to learn new skills and to specialise.
Your graduation today must set you on a path to achieve better and greater heights. You are part of this generation that is making education fashionable. I congratulate you. And I wish you all the best and much success for your future.
I thank you.