Pretoria - The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it is willing to grant University of Pretoria students special permission to find residency above the R45 000 accommodation allowance.
This follows concern from the SRC and the university about the new policy to cap the allowance and therefore disadvantaging the student community because of the university's geo-economic location.
The SRC said the area in which they were located meant students would have to fork out money to top up their monthly rent, something underprivileged beneficiaries could not afford.
When Pretoria News asked if NSFAS was engaging the university and if it could grant its students exemption to exceed the cap, its spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said: "Yes, we are, and we have advised the institution to write to us requesting for the deviation approval."
Spokesperson for the university Rikus Delport said: "The university did send a letter to NSFAS at the end of January, requesting it to reconsider the cap on accommodation allowance.
“In the letter, the university appeals to NSFAS to reconsider the cost, as the actual cost of both UP-owned and private accommodation exceeds the capped amount of R45 000. The difference between the actual amount and the capped amount will lead to outstanding amounts on student accounts, which may not be recovered."
Delport said private accommodation providers could also refuse to place NSFAS students as the amount is below their actual rates. The university is not in a financial position to fund the difference between the actual and capped amounts.
"Year-on-year, utility fees have increased more than inflation. The University of Pretoria strives to ensure that all students are accommodated in residences that are conducive to learning without interruption. Given load shedding and other municipal challenges, increased pressure is placed on the university’s operational budget.
"For 2023, the Minister of Higher Education proposed a less than inflation increase in tuition fees. A 5.1% increase has been proposed, while CPI, as at the end of December 2022, was 7.2%.
"The less than inflationary increase exacerbates the financial burden on the university, thereby reducing its ability to fund the difference between the capped and actual accommodation rates."
SRC deputy president and secretary Neville Mupita and Phenyo Matabane said they tried to negotiate rates leniency with private accommodation service providers who were willing to meet with them, but they were unlucky.
They said some of these businesses said they would rather have their apartments unoccupied than rent them out at rates lower than their standard rates.