White River earmarked for university
Johannesburg - Plans for a new university in White River in Mpumalanga have been expedited because of an overwhelming need, the provincial government said on Monday.
Provincial government spokesperson, Lebona Mosia, said the fatal stampede at the University of Johannesburg in January was a factor in accelerating the process.
Mosia said the Mpumalanga government was asked by the national department of higher education and training to identify parcels of land where a university could be built.
White River was deemed appropriate.
Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza then announced that the new tertiary institution for the province would be built in the Lowveld town.
James Masango from the Democratic Alliance said he suspected the premier's announcement was premature.
"There was no public consultation process, nor any parliamentary portfolio committee meetings to discuss the university, its composition, or its location," he said.
He said a feasibility study was done but the findings were never made public.
"The DA also believes that the location should be subjected to a transparent bidding process, and that municipalities and interest groups be allowed to make their submissions and argue for the university campus to be located in their area."
He said he would write to Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande and Mabuza for clarification.
The national higher education department has identified the need for tertiary education institutions closer to rural communities.
In January a mother died outside the University of Johannesburg when a crowd of desperate youths, hoping to register for university education, became impatient and tried to push their way into the campus.
Across the country universities are overwhelmed, every year, by applications by people wanting to study. A shortage of university places was blamed for the long queues and the fatal stampede.