NSFAS Latest Updates Today 6th March 2023
In todays latest NSFAS News – The Higher education sector, in particular universities, has been stunned by instability and a crisis.
The union (SAUS) is of the view that these challenges which have precipitated towards the crisis we are enduring are almost deliberately orchestrated by university management and the Department of Higher Education.
The reality is that for almost all the demands on the table which have been presented by various SRCs and student organizations across various institutions, in response to the challenges their facing, are in fact issues which had been dealt with in principle.
We met with the Department of Higher Education, NSFAS and various other stakeholders regarding the plights and challenges of students, well prior to any protest actions, as to identify the possible challenges we might face, and we agreed on the necessary solutions and approaches to these challenges, however almost all these stakeholders have failed to uphold the agreements.
1. NSFAS Funding decisions and Appeals
The union back in January, flagged and bemoaned the planned late release of funding decisions, warning it would send the sector into a pandemonium, against our wishes we conceded to the release of funding decisions by NSFAS for the 6th of February 2023. Regrettably the scheme didn’t meet their own commitment, as we speak over 200 000 students are in state of limbo, not knowing whether they have been funded or not, either their statues are awaiting evaluation or their appeals haven’t been adjudicated.
This has proved to be a crisis on several fronts, the first one being that, whilst NSFAS applicants and beneficiaries, who are the poor and working class, were awaiting confirmation of funding from NSFAS, their spaces which they’d been admitted to were being assumed by rich students who can pay for their own studies, and consequently thousands of poor and working class students lost their university spaces due to this failure by NSFAS.
Secondly, as we speak, NSFAS hasn’t concluded their processes, and yet, the majority of universities have closed their registrations, whilst the poor are still waiting for the scheme to finalise their processes.
2. 50% NSFAS progression rule
For the 2022 academic year, NSFAS proposed increasing the pass requirement for NSFAS students to 75%, to which the union vehemently rejected on the basis of then fact that, the prevalent conditions for study and leaving conditions for students weren’t adequate or conducive for them to perform at the expected level. We therefore agreed with NSFAS through the approval of DHET that they would utilize 50% for the 2022 academic year.
However as we speak, thousands of students are being wrongfully financially excluded by NSFAS and universities, whilst having met the pass requirement of 50%.
We have made NSFAS aware of this, although, as per our earlier allusions, there seems to be a deliberate ploy to javelin the sector into mayhem and paralysis, because NSFAS notes, agrees and is aware that the students are being wrongfully excluded, yet up until now, the department is mum and NSFAS redundant on the matter.
3. Food Allowances
We appealed to NSFAS to increase the food allowances of students, as the last time this was done, was in 2018. The Scheme then increased the allowances by 5%, to which we once again emphatically rejected, on the basis that the food afforded by students with the 2018 allowance, had far diminished to them now affording almost 60% of the food they can buy now with that same allowance – inflation!
We therefore advocated for a much larger increment, and although we couldn’t get what we’d proposed, we agreed on rather a 10% increment, to which the minister of DHET and the chair of NSFAS board announced in a join media briefing.
However to demonstrate our held predisposition on the resilient commitment of dark forces within the sector to implode it for reasons we cannot fathom, universities are refusing to pay students the 10% food allowance increment.
4. R45 000 accommodation cap
The scheme, with the department, in consultation with the union agreed to peg the price the state pays on student accommodation at R45 000 p.a.
Based on our assessment of the student accommodation landscape, and the minimum standard which the union called for, to ensure that our students live in safe, secure, and conducive student accommodations, it was evident that this could be achieved within the said cap.
We however now note the collusion of university officials and private student accommodation service provider to ridiculously inflate student accommodation prices to even R90 000 p.a for NSFAS beneficiaries. This we must condemn in the strongest possible terms.
One of our revolutionary mandates is to broaden access to institutions of higher learning, and paying ridiculous and exorbitant accommodation prices to ruthless parasites who seek enrichment form a government social programme is unacceptable.
We have therefore called on the Department and NSFAS to engage with universities, that after all is said and done, not one NSFAS student should sleep outside, they must for the millions we pay them annually for their salaries derive an expedited and workable solution.
5. Missing middle and registration of students with outstanding debt
The painful and crippling reality is that for the 2023 academic year, as with previous years, the department along with the entirety of government, they possess not the ability or will to deal with the funding crisis faced by missing-middle students.
We however, having met with the Department early in January, deliberated and agreed that students who have met the necessary academic and university progression requirements must be allowed to register, irrespective of the amount they owe. That upon signing AODs, they could register.
This did not happen in universities; however universities are denying academically strong students education and financially excluding them, in the midst of a decision by DHET.
All these challenges lead us to but one but one gloomy conclusion, the Department of Higher Education is dismally failing to lead and coordinate the sector, they merely and shamefully play an elusive Godfather role, at best useless and ceremonial.
For what distinguishable reason can public institutions seek to define themselves outside the supposed tutelage of the Department, and for what unfathomable reason could NSFAS and Universities have incongruent timelines under the same alleged leadership f DHET for the same poor students??
It is apparent that there lies at the marrow of our miseries a forlorn lack of leadership on the part of government to decisively lead and coordinate the sector, hence universities are running loose against the directives of the department and the considerations of the sector.
We note and fully support the student protests that have been happening across the sector, and call on more student and student leaders, to follow suit in their campuses and universities in the event that these challenges persist at the expense of the poor and working class.
The union, to this effect will meet with the Board and executives of NSFAS this weekend once again to seek to resolve some of these challenges expeditiously.
The union will further convene an NEC meeting on the 11th of March 2023 to devise a further way forward.
Issued by the South African Union of Students
President: Yandisa Ndzoyiya
Secretary General: Lukhanyo Daweti
For Media Enquiries:
SAUS National Spokesperson: