How will NSFAS’ R2 billion budget adjustment affect students?

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
22 Nov 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) downward budget adjustment of R2 billion will surely have a ripple effect on funding outcomes of students in 2024 and result in the culling of more eligible students through defunding and rejected appeal outcomes.

These are the realities Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, brushed aside yesterday during his media briefing regarding the opening of the NSFAS 2024 application process. NSFAS performed dismally this year, leaving countless students in the lurch, and Minister Nzimande’s address gave no assurances that the Scheme will improve its performance in 2024.

NSFAS failure to properly manage its student-centered model this year means that many students are still waiting on funding and appeal outcomes, not to mention defunding students mid-year.

NSFAS spent too much on information and communication technologies (ICT) – R65 million on budget 1 and an extra R54 million to address NSFAS ICT challenges – to merely say the Scheme has ICT challenge.

The DA will write to Minister Nzimande to get clarity on:

• How the MTBPS budget cuts for both NSFAS and universities will affect students and institutions alike;

• The size of the funding shortfall for the 2024 academic year and where additional funding will be sourced;

• The status on the contracts of the NSFAS direct payment service providers and how students will receive their 2024 funds; and

• The progress on accrediting student accommodation service providers?

We need answers to these questions to ascertain whether students in 2024 will have a smooth start to their academic year. Students are sick of empty promises that brush over the reality of their situations.

The DA will continue to fight for a sustainable approach to student funding so that students are not subjected to hunger and destitution due to non-payment of allowances.

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