Higher Education and Training Amendment Bills Published

Department of Higher Education and Training

Two amendment bills relating to higher education and training have been published and referred to the parliamentary portfolio committee concerned.

They are the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill and the Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges Amendment Bill.

According to a memorandum on the objects of the Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill, it seeks to amend:

• Higher Education Act 101 of 1997; and
• National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act 56 of 1999.

Once promulgated, the proposed amendments to the Higher Education Act will:

• regulate the conduct of members of the council of a public higher education institution and its staff regarding business arrangements with that institution; and
• adjust the period within which an independent assessor appointed by the minister in terms of section 44 of the act must conduct an investigation, report to the minister and suggest appropriate measures.

Amendments proposed to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme Act, once in force, will empower the minister to direct the board of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to act as required if the NSFAS is in financial difficulty, being mismanaged, dysfunctional, or has failed to comply with any law.

The bill also seeks to repeal section 23 of the NSFAS Act, dealing with the
obligation of an employer regarding the recovery of loans. This repeal is proposed because the obligation is considered to infringe the rights of an employer.

According to a memorandum on the objects of the FET Colleges Amendment Bill, it seeks to:

• repeal the structure of cooperation between national and provincial government as contemplated in schedule 4 of the Constitution;
• ensure compliance with the requirements of Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 when transferring state-funded lecturers and support staff previously employed as educators back to the public service; and, in this regard, to
• provide for transitional arrangements.

In anticipation of the bill’s introduction to Parliament, the Constitution 18th Amendment Bill was tabled in the National Assembly on 13 June 2011.

Sabinet Cape Town Office 

Related legislation: