Windhoek-Dr Tjama Tjivikua, the vice chancellor of the newly established Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) has expressed unhappiness over the government’s approved funding model.
Tjivikua’s complaint coincides with the announcement by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) that budgetary submissions for the 2017/18 financial year are in the process of being finalised.
His request is also not new, as he has for some time been appealing to government for a fairer share of funding, while expressing concerns about unfair and inconsistent funding, especially in tough economic times. Tjivikua argued that they built a university with a strong reputation for excellence, known for cultivating the disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics education in Namibia and for also cultivating entrepreneurship and innovation. This, he says, they did in spite of meagre public funding to the institution since its inception, and amid many other challenges.
“Our call for appropriate funding shall never end until justice is served. Indeed, our concerns about funding are highlighted in these hard economic times and we must speak out about diminishing and inconsistent funding, because once we corrode or damage the foundation of universities, we imperil our competitiveness and socio-economic prosperity. Our legacy will only be preserved when we stand up for this university and manage to overcome this huge economic challenge while maintaining our trademark of excellence,” he remarked.
Deputy director of operations Sylvia Demas earlier spoke to New Era about the approved funding framework and said the council has already made proposals for the next financial year. “The institutions submitted their financial needs in August (2016) to the NCHE secretariat and by end of September we shared our recommendations with the Ministry of Higher and Education. These recommendations have been submitted to the Ministry of Finance, which is now in the process of finalising the budget submissions for the next financial year,” Demas explained.
The funding framework was for the first time implemented this current financial year for both the University of Namibia (Unam) and NUST.
Minister of Higher Education Dr Itah Kandjii-Murangi has said the level of government subsidy is determined by the difference between the universities’ estimated operational costs and tuition fees. Operational cost reflects the total cost of credits in all subjects under the higher education programmes offered by the institution. The cost per credit is standardised for both Unam and NUST.
“It was the first budget in which we implemented the funding framework. The implementation of the funding framework runs at the same time as the preparation of the national budget,” Demas said.
She said the aim of the funding framework is not necessarily to give equal funding, but to promote equity. The institutions are funded based on the number of credits they offer and not on the number of students, meaning the funding is given by the value of subjects taken by a student, she said.
Asked if public institutions are happy with the funding formula, she said they are happy, despite the economic crisis the country faces.