Barbara Maregele, GroundUp Pretoria - Student leaders at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges say the Department of Higher Education and Training has two weeks to deliver outstanding certificates.Members of the SA Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa) met with Minister Blade Nzimande in Pretoria over the weekend to discuss a number of "critical issues", including the certificates, at the colleges.Safetsa president Yonke Twani said that during the meeting with Nzimande the department agreed to resolve the 2016 certificate backlog, release the pending 2016 results by March, and extend the deadline for NSFAS applications."This week the department will communicate with vice chancellors to give priority to TVET college graduates applying [for funding], particularly those who could not apply because of pending results," he said.Twani said they also agreed that around 230 000 additional positions should be made available for new students wanting to enrol this year.Over the last two weeks Safetsa has been urging students to join a national shutdown of more than 50 colleges if the department fails to meet their demands. Academic activities at more than 20 TVET colleges nationwide have been brought to a standstill.Backlog reducedStudent leaders are calling for the deadline for student enrolments to be extended, for qualified lecturers to be employed and for the long-standing backlog of certificates to be processed.In a statement on Sunday Nzimande thanked Safetsa leadership for their participation over the weekend."During our deliberations, my department was very clear on our commitment to ensure that any delays that may affect the system cannot and should not be to the detriment of hard-working students looking to study further or entering the job market," he said.Last week the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education chairperson, Connie September, said only 973 certificates were still outstanding. September said the committee would be meeting with the relevant departments and colleges this week to discuss the other challenges."There were 236 821 certificates outstanding from August 2015 backlog. Of these, 235 834 have been issued. We will hear [this] week whether there is a new backlog," she said.