South Africa’s “#FeesMustFall” protests, demanding the right to quality and accessible education, produced an unprecedented movement of student activism that rapidly swept across the country’s university campuses and cities, culminating in a march at the historic Union Buildings in October 2015.
With significant pressure being applied by both internal and external stakeholders, it is without a doubt that the current Higher Education environment is extremely volatile. In addition to the challenges posed by operating in such a tumultuous environment, Universities are also facing a multitude of internal hurdles including uncertainty over their future funding model, rising student expectations and rapidly changing playing fields, driven by the technological revolution and the urgent cries to democratise education.
This means that Executives charged with the responsibility of promoting sound Governance are now, therefore, ever more reliant on advice and guidance from informed Governance advisors. It is against this backdrop that KPMG and The Forum for Audit, Risk and Forensics (FARF) recognised the importance of hosting this conference to support an efficiently managed Higher Education Sector which is critical to the future of our country.
Undoubtedly, everyone has the right to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible. Even though much has been done to redress the imbalances, South Africa’s education systems and skills development programmes are not responding adequately to the demands of society and the economy. In an interconnected world, with an accelerated pace of change, effective risk management is critical for the achievement of South Africa’s developmental objectives.
KPMG, through our team of local and international Higher Education experts, is committed to supporting the sector to address the myriad of internal and external factors impeding the success of our educational institutions.
“We firmly believe that through collaboration, innovation and excellence we can create optimal learning environments for all our citizens – shifting the focus from disruption to quality Education. This can only be achieved through continual candid conversations and engagements with all stakeholders, sharing of best practises and optimisation of university business models,” said Farzanah Mall, KPMG Director.
“The challenges relating to the dysfunction of the education sector require focused attention of all role players including government, business, academia, support structures, funders, students, business and society as a whole. With the rising cost of service provision, a zero percent fee increase for tertiary education is not sustainable and alternate solutions must be explored.”
Owing to our commitment to supporting the Higher Education sector, and KPMG’s purpose to inspire confidence and empower change, on 14 March 2016, KPMG hosted the second Higher Education Conference after the inaugural 2015 Conference was a phenomenal success, with over 23 Public Higher Education Institutions (and numerous other industry experts) attending and participating in important Governance and Forensics discussions. This year’s theme is, “#StatusQuoMustFall – KPMG and FARF Creating sustainable solutions for Universities”.
The theme was selected to create a platform for engagement on how governance mechanisms can add much needed value to safeguarding the assets of institutions and contribute to their future viability. It also gives us great pleasure to announce that we have a list of speakers that are industry experts in their respective fields, and whom are akin to the unique challenges facing the Sector.
Granville Smith, Director: KPMG National Head of Higher Education, urges all role players to take note of Nelson Mandela’s quote, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” As Governance Advisors, it is now of paramount importance that we do our bit to help improve this “production plant” of our economy – whether it be collating and bringing together the ideas and solutions which are often never heard, or strategically aligning mandates to results.
Ranesh Sivnarain (PhD) Chairperson: The Forum for Audit, Risk and Forensics (FARF) says, “We have to prevent wasteful expenditure by holding employees and management responsible and accountable. The most robust antifraud strategies and interventions will not fully succeed unless we inculcate a sound ethical culture amongst our staff, students, suppliers and other stakeholders.”
At KPMG, we have invested significantly in the Education sector. We have deep industry insight having provided Audit, Tax and Advisory services to over 23 public Higher Education institutions in the country.
Farzanah Mall, Director: KPMG and the Higher Education Conference Lead says, “We truly hope that this conference and our presentations, discussions and debates, will contribute to a better education system in South Africa. Future generations are dependent on us being market leaders, collaborators, innovators and influencers, addressing the challenges in this sector with courage, agility and integrity.”