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Cape Town - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loan  system has risen by more than 600% for universities and a 17 900% for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in the past ten years.

In a statement, the Department of Higher Education and Training showed that total outlays via NSFAS in support of students at universities and colleges from poor and lower income families grew twelvefold from R 1.755-billion in 2007 to R 22.307-billion in 2016.

The figures are contained in a response by Minister Blade Nzimande to a Parliamentary Question tabled this week.

“These figures make crystal clear that post school education and training has been and continues to be an absolute focus and priority of the ANC government,” said Nzimande.

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“Working together with Treasury, we have put a massive effort into ensuring that all those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the ability can in fact get to university and college, and even greater effort into ensuring that those who either don’t qualify for or choose not to go to university or college can gain the training and skills they need to become full participants in the economy.”

The department stated that the rise in spending showed that Government had fulfilled one of the key promises of ANC policy and had opened the doors of learning to all.

Post-School Education and Training (PSET) continued to be a massive empowerment tool, ensuring that individuals, families, and communities could benefit from the better prospects provided through skills and qualifications.

When presenting his department’s Budget Vote in Parliament in May, Nzimande said despite the cynicism of critics, since 2013 to date, more than two million students studying at South Africa’s public universities and TVET colleges have been funded by NSFAS.

He said since its inception as the Tertiary Education Fund of South Africa (TEFSA) in 1991, NSFAS has awarded about R72 billion in loans and bursaries.

“A total of 194 353 university students have thus far been supported in the 2017 academic year, with 78 413 covering first time entrances and 115 940 returning students. Similarly, 123 332 TVET college students have already received support this year. NSFAS is one of the most significant success stories in the history of a democratic South Africa,” Nzimande said at the time 

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