The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will release additional funding from its coffers for qualifying university students who require additional months to complete their academic year.
This comes after the NSFAS received no additional funds from the government due to South Africa’s difficult fiscal situation.
According to the Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr. Blade Nzimande, the department then asked NSFAS to identify funds to support the extended academic year.
“This was done within the existing allocations to the entity, and taking note of the crucial fact that there has been a significant increase in the number of university students qualifying for NSFAS funding in 2020.”
Nzimande said he was pleased that NSFAS managed to acquire funding to support to cover living allowances such as meals and personal expenses.
“This money is not for the things I shall not name,” he said. He is urging students to spend the money wisely and responsibly.
“You spend it wrongly, you destroy your future easily,” he warned.
He stressed that this was not blanket support and that those who have finished their academic year will have to wait until the 2021 academic year for their new allocations.
According to Minister Nzimande, so far, only the University of Johannesburg has already wrapped up its academic year, while the University of Pretoria is expected to finish this month.
Eight are expected to finish in December, three in January, nine in February and four in March.
Meanwhile, all 25 universities are set to start the 2021 academic year at end of March 2021 and one university in April.
He said NSFAS will work closely with universities to identify the students affected and the extended time for each student that requires support.
“Universities will have to provide this necessary information to NSFAS to enable the allowances to be expeditiously processed,” he added.
Meanwhile, the department is working towards a policy framework on the regulation of university fees.
However, according to Nzimande, the process has still not been concluded for the 2021 academic year due to the uncertainty sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Nzimande, the department is proposing a further “fee compact” to public universities, continuing what has been in place for the past few years.
“The intention of these fee compacts is to ensure fee increases are kept at affordable levels, while also ensuring that universities are able to remain sustainable,” the Minister explained.
Nzimande has since written to all university Councils with a proposal for a Consumer Price Index (CPI) linked fee increase for 2021.
“This would be 4.7% on tuition fees and 6.7% on accommodation fees, in line with previous years. I am awaiting the response of university councils on this matter,” he announced.
“In relation to the modelling of possible costs for the extended academic year 2020, in respect of NSFAS-funded students, we now have determined the financial implications relating to the extension because we have further information about the academic calendars of the universities.” – SAnews.gov.za