D-Day for NSFAS – yet no answers

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
15 Jan 2024 in News

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

During the DA’s engagement with NSFAS today at their head office in Cape Town, acting CEO Masile Ramorwesi was unable to provide an update on today’s deadline for the distribution of all outstanding 2023 funding. NSFAS officials could also not provide the number of students who have successfully applied for 2024 funding. Pics here, here, here, here and here.

The Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, also failed to give an update on this during a media briefing yesterday, nor did he give an update on the 10% NSFAS shortfall for 2024 that will see more than 87 000 students left behind, as well as where funding will be sourced to cover the shortfall.

NSFAS was also not able to address our concerns regarding student accommodation.

This situation has disastrous implications for the affected students, who are left in a state of uncertainty about their financial support for education.

The inability to provide information on the number of successful 2024 funding applications adds to the anxiety and frustration among students, making it challenging for them to plan their academic year effectively.

Furthermore, the failure to address concerns about student accommodation exacerbates the situation, potentially leaving numerous students without a place to stay.

The lack of clarity and accountability in the handling of funding issues by NSFAS and government officials jeopardises the education and prospects of the affected students, highlighting the urgent need for a prompt and transparent resolution to mitigate the potential disaster unfolding in the educational landscape.

Minister Nzimande’s announcement of his missing middle funding model yesterday, is nothing but a blatant attempt to steer attention away from himself and the NSFAS board chair and left out tangible information such as the date of implementation and repayment terms and conditions.

The fact of the matter is that NSFAS’ financial sustainability will not be solved by limiting income contingent loans to just the missing middle.

Fee-free higher education is unsustainable and with university grants also being cut, higher education institutions are being left in a precarious situation that will continue to exclude the missing middle from accessing higher education.

The DA’s alternative funding model focuses on creating a sustainable higher education funding environment that will ensure more students would be eligible for a bigger variety of funding options while ensuring NSFAS’ financial sustainability.

Before we get excited about the R3.8 billion funding for 47% of the missing middle, the devil lies in the details.

Any credible announcement should entail:

  • Percentage interest on the loan;
  • When repayment will commence;
  • Who will be responsible for administering the loan system considering the NSFAS board’s fixation on outsourcing NSFAS operations;
  • When will the loan system commence;
  • How much is earmarked for the ICT upgrade and who will be contracted to implement this, considering R119 million has already been spent to upgrade the system; and
  • National Treasury’s correspondence on the seed funding increase over ten years considering the economic outlook of the country.

It is time Minister Nzimande was replaced by a competent Minister with a clear creative vision to steer higher education in the right direction.

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