In the midst of fanfare about emergency grants and increased funding; Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande has promised that the number of poor and working class students whose fees will be paid out of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) annual budget will be 405 000: 205 000 at university and 200 000 at TVET college.
But, says shadow minister of higher education and training Belinda Bozzoli, this is the same number of students he promised to support last year.
“The Minister has thus made clear that despite ANC neglect of the higher education system spilling over into uncontrollable student protests, his department will source enough funding to assist zero additional students as he promised to last year,” she says.
“Of course, because of inefficiencies in NSFAS, only 186 105 of the 205 000 promised university students were supported. In total almost 54 000 students who qualify under NSFAS did not receive financing due to insufficient government funding of NSFAS,” Bozzoli adds.
“Much has been made by Minister Nzimande of the R4,5-billion grant in emergency funding to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). However, what the Minister has been very vague about is that the grant is only for students whose fees should have been paid for in 2013, 2014 and 2015 but were not due to inefficiencies in NSFAS. The R4,5-billion grant thus will only assist students whose fees should have been paid by NSFAS over the up to three years ago. While government attempts to play hero in this catastrophe, when it is in fact the villain, finally paying fees which it promised to pay up to three years ago.
“In the meantime, government has promised to increase NSFAS’s annual funding from R9,5-billion to only R10-billion.”