Free State bursaries a waste of taxpayers money

Opinion by FF Plus

Free State bursaries a waste of taxpayers money
Free State bursaries a waste of taxpayers money

The Free State is awarding too many bursaries to students whose qualifications will ultimately not benefit the province. The fact that the Department of the Premier admitted during its appearance before the Free State Legislature’s Public Accounts Committee that financial deficits are hindering bursaries goes to show that the provincial government simply cannot keep awarding more bursaries.

At present, the Department of the Premier is financing 10 000 students to study locally and 1 200 students to study internationally and that is costing taxpayers respectively R60 000 and R128 000 per student per year.

Despite the additional R63 million in the adjustment budget, there is a deficit of R140 million for bursaries and that is an indication that the government should plan and manage the money better and award bursaries more conservatively.

Many students’ bursaries are insufficient to cover a year’s studies and as a result, these students are deregistered. The government should rather award bigger and sufficient bursaries to less students.

The FF Plus views the international bursaries awarded by the Free State government as squandering as it offers the province no value for its money. The students who are awarded international bursaries are but a tenth of the total number of students who receive bursaries, but more than half of the funds go to them.

Medical students who graduated in China cannot practice in South Africa seeing as the Health Professions Council does not recognise the Chinese curriculum. Now the students have to continue their studies in Russia and that is costing taxpayers even more money.

The FF Plus is also concerned that no needs assessments for scarce skills are conducted in the province and, thus, students who have graduated can probably not be employed so as to benefit the province.

There is also no agreement in place to oblige students to utilise their learned skills to benefit the Free State for a specific period of time. The Free State cannot afford to finance studies that will mean nothing to the province.

The FF Plus will request the Free State premier in writing to first do needs assessments for scarce skills before more bursaries are awarded. The party will also recommend that students must sign an agreement with the province which will compel them use their skills for the benefit of the province for a specific period of time.

Only then will the Free State gain anything from the bursaries that the province allocates.

Read the original article in Afrikaans by Tammy Wessels on FF Plus

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