Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

New ministerial task team to relook functionality of troubled NSFAS

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Feb 12, 2020

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Cape Town – A new ministerial task team to be established soon will relook at the functionality of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Higher Education, said Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande.

Nzimande met with NSFAS officials in Wynberg where he was updated on the processing of payments for NSFAS-funded students for the current academic year.

The South African Union of Students and student representative council (SRC) presidents from all 26 universities across the country last month called for the NSFAS to reopen for late applicants and walk-ins, as well as for the NSFAS appeals process to be more transparent, efficient and responsive to ensure students don’t lose their spaces in universities.

“One of the challenges we are still facing is that the current NSFAS system was announced in 2017, to have been implemented in January 2018. 

"As a result of that, policy issues that should have been clarified, and procedures that should have been put in place were not, because it needed to be implemented immediately.

“Now the task team will have to say which policies are needed, and how the functioning of NSFAS can be improved.

“We want to do it now, before the second term of the administrator ends,” Nzimande said.

NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen yesterday admitted tertiary institutions faced a chronic housing shortage.

“We will expect institutions to set norms and standards for accommodation that can be applied and NSFAS will accredit based on these norms and standards,” he said.

At the University of the Western Cape (UWC), violent protests broke out last week over issues including accommodation.

The university is still scrambling to find additional bed spaces to place hundreds of students

Their accommodation woes started last year when the South Point residence in Belhar, which was jointly used by UWC and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) students, was exclusively rented by CPUT.

The SRC said management had promised that all affected students would be placed before the start of the 2020 academic year, but that did not happen.

SRC chairperson Sasha Douglas said instead students were subjected to sleeping in the student centre and in TV rooms.

UWC spokesperson Gasant Abarder said all ex-South Point residents were being prioritised for accommodation.

“About 332 students have been placed in residence on campus, and 36 have been placed in private accommodation off campus. We are now in the process of moving 180 to private residences off campus.

“This off campus accommodation is close to campus.

“The university is currently expediting the provision of additional bed spaces for qualifying students. Bed spaces on campus are limited and unfortunately the university cannot accommodate all students.

“The university will continuously work to secure additional bed spaces in private accommodation,” said Abarder.

Cape Times

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