Nzimande's foreign trips cost R1.9m
Cape Town - Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande said on Tuesday he visited seven foreign countries last year at a cost of R1.9m.
Nzimande accompanied President Jacob Zuma on state visits to China, Russia and the United Kingdom and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe on a working visit to Turkey, the minister said in reply to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance.
The first visit to the UK in March 2010 was followed up by a second visit in May "to build on agreements reached during the state visit", he said.
In March, Nzimande also travelled to Germany for talks on skills development and to Austria to take part in the Bologna Policy Forum, which is aimed at ensuring coherent higher education systems in Europe.
Nzimande said the cost to the taxpayer needed to be "measured against the benefits arising from these visits".
These included strengthened collaboration between South African and international universities "particularly in the UK with Warrick and the University of Surrey" and receiving technical assistance from the British Council and German higher education institutions.
He said his visit to China resulted in Beijing pledging R200m for the refurbishment of South Africa's further education and training colleges and paying for 19 scholarships for the current academic year.
Generally, the visits served to review international practices and policies on higher education.
Nzimande said he spent a total of 32 days abroad and was accompanied by four to five officials on each visit.