Universities across the country have been experiencing a lot of student debt and outstanding fees leading to financial exclusions which have recently been fought against in student protests at universities around South Africa.
BEE Novation Transformation Consultant and Managing Director, Lee Du Preez says that the solution to this could be to source funding from Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs).
The job of a SETA is to ensure that people who need to develop their skills are able to access those opportunities, such as learnerships, internships etc. This is funded by the SETA and channeled through a training provider in partnership with a host company.
Du Preez spoke to eNCA saying that some of the programmes or implementation of the training providers and partners SETAs are using are not as effective as they could be.
Du Preez says that amid the current student protests at various universities, SETAs should consider channeling some of their funding into the higher education crisis to ensure that fewer students are financially excluded.
He says that another route that could be taken to add support to higher education institutions and financially excluded students, is the use of the BEE scorecard.
"That is the BEE scorecard, on the skills development element of the BBE scorecard companies are incentivized to spend a percentage of their payroll on higher education interventions. This is a direct result of the Fees Must Fall protest," said Du Preez.
Companies are not just encouraged to cover fees but they can even contribute towards food and accommodation costs and still gain the benefits from these interventions on their scorecard.
Du Preez says that focus should be placed on SETAs as well as companies to channel funding into higher education to support students better.
The incentives which exist for companies on the BEE scorecard due to contributions to higher education interventions, is that they can gain points from them. This provides another incentive for the company to employ the beneficiaries which will help them gain a 1 or 2 level increase on their scorecard while they provide opportunities of employment to young black students.
If companies choose to offer students learnerships the incentive is that they are able to claim an R80 000 tax rebate.
Du Preez says that there are a lot of options out there to solve the financial issues at higher education institutions and that more should be done to explore the various options.
"I think we really need to look at the entire ecosystem a lot better, it's not the SETAs, it's not just the skills element on the BEE scorecard..." said Du Preez.