How the DA wants to fix universities and TVET colleges

The party launched its election manifesto on Saturday at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg ahead of general elections in May.

FILE: Prospective students at Wits University on 9 January 2018. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The Democratic Alliance (DA) said on Saturday it had a comprehensive plan to fix the country’s higher education sector to give students the tools they need to succeed in a modern economy.

The party launched its election manifesto at the weekend at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg ahead of general elections in May.

The DA does not support the ANC government’s fee-free higher education for poor and working-class undergraduate students, but should it be elected into government, it wants to provide complete bursary packages to students from low-income families.

These bursaries would cover travel, food, accommodation, and learning materials, and students would not have to repay them once they successfully complete their studies.

For the so-called missing-middle students who are in the low to middle-income bracket, the DA wants to roll-out partial bursary awards. The party believes these students can pay for some of the costs of their education and this would be determined, for example, through a means test.

The DA also wants to scrap the National Youth Development Agency and channel its funds towards the creation of Khuphuka Opportunity Centres, which would provide a wide range of services like career advice, job opportunities and helping small businesses with start-up grants.

Here are some of the DA’s plans for higher education as outlined in the manifesto:


  • Merge the Department of Higher Education and Training and the Department of Science and Technology to form the Department of Post-School Education, Research and Innovation.

  • To improve tertiary teaching standards by attracting top researchers, lecturers, and academics including those from abroad.

  • Progressively improve funding to ensure that university fee hikes are kept to an absolute minimum while ensuring that the quality and standard of education, infrastructure, accommodation, and equipment remains high.

  • Create a differentiated range of universities spanning the private and public sectors, with appropriate funding for each category. The range of institutions would cater for academic/ research-based, teaching-based, technical and distance higher education.

  • Revamp the management and governance of some universities with the aim of stabilising these institutions, as well as eliminating corruption.


  • Modernise the syllabus and staff composition of TVET colleges so that they offer 21st century training related to the information economy, and services economy.

  • Different colleges by form and function to reflect a variety of missions and local and regional needs.

  • Revamp the management and administration of colleges to eliminate corruption and providing support to and training for their senior executives.

  • Ensuring that all certificates are speedily and efficiently produced and delivered to students.

  • Develop high-quality two-track (work and study) apprenticeship programmes.

  • Substantially increasing the involvement of companies in training apprentices to provide on-the-job training and internship programmes in new and existing fields.

Read the full manifesto below