Minister Nzimande must release MTT report before making NSFAS promises

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education
20 Oct 2022 in News

Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.

Tuesday, the Minister for Higher Education, Blade Nzimande disingenuously held a media briefing outlining what is perceived to be a done deal on the way forward for student funding. This despite the fact that the Ministerial Task Team’s (MTT) report on a sustainable student funding model remains under wraps.

The DA once again call on Minister Nzimande to present the report to the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, as well as engage with the committee regarding the recommendations he made during his briefing.

The Financial Fiscal Commission (FFC) recently raised concerns that there is a lack of urgency for robust engagements to ensure the new funding model is introduced during 2023/24, and highlighted the fact that they were left out of any engagements regarding the new funding model investigative MTT report.

The DA has continuously advocated for a more sustainable student funding model. Fee free higher education is simply unsustainable. Since 2017 to date, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) demand has increased from R5.9 billion to R49 billion. We have yet to see the Minister’s promises that all NSFAS qualifying students will be funded for 2022 come to fruition – many are still waiting for NSFAS funding outcomes.

The DA has on numerous occasions called on the Department of Higher Education to create a single application processes for multiple funding options from public institutions and business in order to ease the financial burden of the NSFAS bursary scheme. The Auditor-General (AG) also stated that an integrated system is urgently needed to avoid any form of double dipping from students holding bursaries from various institutions.

A ten-year plan will only exacerbate the student funding crisis. An income contingency loans system which is payable only when employment is obtained and which is converted into a bursary scheme upon good academic results is what is needed to ensure a sustainable funding model. Subjecting the missing middle to a loan system is incorporating a biased discriminatory element. What’s good for one should be good for all students if the Minister wants to persist with this socialist model of fee free higher education.

While we have noted that some of these recommendations highlighted the DA’s proposals made on various media platforms and in the committee, however we need sight of the MTT report to have proper engagement.

Who knows, this report in its entirety might just address what the DA has been advocating for and the Minister wants to play a Jacob Zuma on us by jumping the gun with his media frenzy!