No teachers for new varsities

The plan to build two more universities in the country might ultimately be undermined by a shortage of academics.

The plan to build two more universities in the country might ultimately be undermined by a shortage of academics.

The Department of Higher Education and Training has announced plans to build universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape.

In his budget speech Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said: "Work towards the establishment of universities in Mpumalanga and Northern Cape will continue this financial year.

"We are appointing two task teams with representatives from these provinces to explore appropriate university models for the needs of these provinces and come up with concrete proposals and time frames.

"Professor Cheryl de la Rey and Professor Thandwa Mthembu have confirmed their availability to chair these teams and will interact on key issues."

Higher Education South Africa is worried, though, that the plan might face hurdles.

Hesa said the creation of two new universities was welcomed though there was evidence that there were inadequate human, financial and physical resources to support the current system.

This included the strengthening of several academic disciplines that were under threat and the improvement of academic salaries to enhance the viability and competitiveness of the sector.

Mpumalanga and Northern Cape - the only provinces without public universities - have national institutes of higher education.

At the moment the only options for Mpumalanga-based students are the Tshwane University of Technology and Vaal University of Technology - which offer limited courses through satellite campuses, three Further Education and Training centres and a handful of private colleges.

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