Cape Town - Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has pumped an additional R32.6 billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) this year.
The fiscus has been under pressure but Godongwana told Parliament on Wednesday that higher education was one of the government’s priorities.
“In 2017, government announced a policy for fee-free education. We are announcing an additional allocation of R32.6bn for financial support to current bursary holders and first-year students under NSFAS,” said Godongwana.
In the Budget Review it was stated if there was a shortfall in the funding of students at universities this year, the Department of Higher Education would take the tab.
This would be done through the reprioritisation of its budget.
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In the Budget Review it was also stated that a new funding model for students would be introduced next year. But it did not provide details of the funding model.
“A ministerial task team is developing a new student funding model for higher education and training to be introduced in 2023. In the meantime, an additional R32.6bn is allocated to the NSFAS over the medium term to continue the current bursaries for students from families with annual incomes below R350 000, and to fund the new cohort of entrants to institutions of higher learning.
“Any shortfalls in funding for these student bursaries will be covered by the Department of Higher Education and Training through reprioritisation,” the Budget Review stated.
In the Estimates of National Expenditure it is stated that the millions of students at universities will benefit from NSFAS over the next three years.
“In the department’s efforts to expand access to higher education, transfers to the NSFAS for student loans and bursaries account for an estimated 37.8% (R143.3bn) of total expenditure over the medium term, including an additional R32.6bn to sustain the current levels of support to qualifying students.
“This funding is expected to benefit 1.3 million university and 1.1 million TVET college students from poor and working class backgrounds,” said the Estimates of National Expenditure.