The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has slammed claims that they had accredited shacks for student accommodation. It said the claims were false and misleading.
The claims follow the DA’s hybrid oversight of informal settlements (shacks) regarded as “student accommodation” in Madalabara, Limpopo where students studying at the Letaba TVET college reside.
The oversight visit revealed that some of the students who resided in the area were NSFAS-funded students.
According to the DA, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande had denied that students were living in shacks, claiming that there was no NSFAS accommodation crisis.
Yet NSFAS subsequently told the parliamentary committee on higher education that 65.64% of student accommodation that its beneficiaries resided in was unaccredited.
This means that only 26,530 out of 77,209 NSFAS-funded student accommodations were approved for safe and decent housing for students.
In a statement released on Friday, the scheme clarified that its beneficiaries were housed in a conducive accommodation that supported learning and allowed them to succeed.
According to NSFAS, the college had notified them that there was no record of students residing in shacks, this was after they reviewed the lease agreements signed by students.
“It was mentioned that in some cases students changed accommodation without updating their lease agreements and college records accordingly,” it said.
The scheme said it was aware that the state of some private and institution-owned accommodations was not conducive for learning, but said a stringent process in ensuring that NSFAS beneficiaries stay in approved accredited accommodation was under way.
It further mentioned that many students could not access suitable accommodation close to their learning institutions.
Furthermore, the NSFAS board and management are committed to ensuring that the NSFAS beneficiaries have access to quality student accommodation that adequately supports their learning.
“Our dedication to fulfilling our mandate as a funding agency is unwavering, as we are dedicated to supporting deserving students from poor and working-class backgrounds,” it said.