The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is ready to fund all qualifying higher education students, this is according to Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande.
Nzimande on Tuesday was addressing the media on his department’s state of readiness for the 2022 academic year.
“I am happy to report that we will be able to fund all qualifying students on the DHET bursary scheme who have been admitted for funded programmes at public TVET colleges and universities in 2022. Further details will be provided by NSFAS including the appeals process.”
According to Nzimande NSFAS received 906,429 applications during the 2022 Application period, of which 85 percent have not studied at a public university before. In comparison to the number of applications received over the last three years, there is a sharp increase in the demand for NSFAS bursaries this year.
He also raised concerns about students who continue to defraud NSFAS by submitting false information.
“According to the analysis performed to a cohort of 2021 students, NSFAS has established that 38,744 continuing students in TVET colleges and universities continue to be funded even though they have realised substantial improvement in household income over the funded period. Of these, 32,654 have a household income that exceeds R400,000.
“Our analysis further shows that 7,081 of these students have a household income that exceeds R1,000,000 and 632 students have a household income that exceeds R2,000,000.
“These students will be defunded. However, NSFAS must lodge criminal charges of fraud in such instances, though the affected students may at the same time be afforded the opportunity to lodge an appeal.”
Nzimande also touched on the issue of vaccination. He encouraged all the students and staff in the higher education and training community to get vaccinated.
“As we move towards full contact learning and teaching and on-campus activities, and full return to residences, it is necessary to ensure that staff and students have access to safe campus environments, which is greatly assisted by a high level of the population being vaccinated.”
This comes after several universities approved mandatory vaccination policies that will be put into effect at the start of the 2022 academic year. However, this decision has been met with reluctance by student organisations who argue that students should not be forced to vaccinate.
They argue that it should be the student’s choice to vaccinate, and that students should be consulted in the process.
Nzimade said that the process of consultation on the issue of vaccine mandates led by the Deputy President David Mabuza is under way.
“Currently, Higher Health, our implementing agency that is guiding institutions on the management of the pandemic, is consulting scientific experts in drawing up guidelines that institutions can follow in determining various matters around vaccination.
“Whilst we are awaiting the finalisation of these guidelines in relation to vaccine mandates and the management of the academic year, which I intend to prioritise urgently, I urge all institutions to ensure that the policies and procedures they put in place have been widely consulted upon,” Nzimande said.