On Sunday Sizwe Nxasana, the chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), held a media briefing on the status of 2017 NSFAS applications for university and TVET college students, saying funding had already been approved for more than 300,000 students and he expected another 100,000 to still receive funding.
As of last Friday, February 17, the second phase of applications for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges closed. Nxasana said, “NSFAS received a total of 161,938 applications from university and TVET college students.” Of the applications received, 105,135 were successful for new students. NSFAS also confirmed funding for 204,652 returning students. In total NSFAS so far will be funding 309,788 students this year.
Nxasana explained that this is not the final number of students being funded by NSFAS as they still need to evaluate applications for TVET students from the second phase. NSFAS is also still in the process of evaluating qualifying students who only finished the 2016 academic year in January. Nxasana expects that NSFAS will fund an additional 100 000 students.
Dr. Blade Nzimande, Minister of Higher Education and Training, has confirmed that the NSFAS funding budget for 2017 will be R15 billion. Nxasana went on to confirm that 53,043 applications were unsuccessful. He said, “Unsuccessful students can lodge an appeal by downloading an application form on the NSFAS website, filling it in, and emailing it – together with their recommendations – to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.” The deadline for appeals is February 28.
Towards the end of the media briefing, Nxasana acknowledged the unrest and students protests that had been prompted by the issue of accommodation for NSFAS students. He said, “It’s important to note that NSFAS does not make decisions on which students qualify for private accommodation allowances.” Nxasana went on to explain that NSFAS has no involvement with private accommodation providers and the accreditation process.
This has has been a year of change for NSFAS in many ways. For the first time there was a second phase for applications and this is also the first year that NSFAS has started to use a student-centred model to universities and TVET colleges. The purpose of this model is to “establish a direct relationship with its students from the time they enter higher education until post-graduation”.
Written by: Jody Davison