Thursday, April 25, 2024

New funding model to make tertiary bodies more accountable

The Tertiary Education Council (TEC)’s new model for funding tertiary institutions has come too late to help determine the 2011/2012 budget for the Ministry of Education and Skills Development, The Telegraph has been informed.

As a result, the budget for public tertiary institutions will be allocated in the normal way by the Ministry of Finance, through the Ministry of Education, says University of Botswana Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Frank Youngman.

The TEC has been working to develop a new policy on funding public institutions that is expected to change the way these institutions are funded. This newspaper has learnt that the TEC has been nudged towards a new policy after realizing the inefficiency of the current model.

For example, it is understood that through the TEC, government has been amassing a higher bill on the running costs for publicly funded institutions.

Given the safeguard of a sure budget from TEC and other interventions that cushion them from financial constraints, these institutions are in a comfort zone and have become too indolent to diversify their sources of income. They cannot, on their own, cover their running costs.

Among the institutions confirmed to be heavily dependent on government for running costs is the UB.

The Telegraph has found that in the 2009/10 budget for UB, government spent 78 percent on the running costs of the institution. The institution contributed a mere 19 percent to its running costs, with the remaining 3 percent collected from diversified sources.

These revelations have added weight to worries that financial inefficiencies are hampering the operation of the country’s tertiary institutions.

Moreover, as confirmed by tertiary sector technocrats, “the budgets for these institutions are not subjected to comprehensive scrutiny to measure their cost efficacy”.

To make matters worse, these institutions are run without being measured against international standards.

The new policy is expected to shift things totally, with its release putting an end to the comfort zone mentality.

Tertiary institutions will be required to juggle their financial challenges more prudently, government may even reduce funding, forcing them to increase their third stream income and become more accountable for managing their finances.

The new policy will revolve around student unit cost, which is the annual cost of educating a student in a tertiary institution. The calculations of the student unit cost are said to be generally dependent on periodic budget divided by students enrollments.

Speaking during a seminar presentation on Tertiary Education Funding at UB, Professor Youngman said government spending on public universities is in decline worldwide, forcing them to reduce the unit cost per student.

When asked when the policy will be used, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs said TEC has not announced when it will be introduced.

The director of Institutional planning from TEC, Victoria Damane, said she was unable to say when it will be used.

“The funding model is still with government for consideration,” she added.


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