The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor, has debated with confidence and delight, the State Of the Nation Address (SONA) 2019 on 12 February 2019, following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s address.
Pandor has given NSFAS a pat on the back, for ensuring that the 2019 academic year generates a “historic” moment for the government scheme in the disbursements of allowances, adding that the scheme needed to be put under administration.
“For the first time ever, student registration and NSFAS eligibility is working in tandem, together, in sync harmoniously, and many students have already received allowances” Pandor said.
The Minister said the recent appointment of an Administrator, Dr. Randal Carolissen, has vastly improved the performance of the scheme. “While there are many challenges remaining, NSFAS is on the right track. This year Government is providing R30,8 billion in grants to 750,000 students. This is a huge increase in a very short time” she said.
Meanwhile,Dr. Carolissen, appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training yesterday, 13 February 2019, to give highlights and updates of the scheme’s successes and challenges as per the terms of refences of his portfolio.
“NSFAS has disbursed more than R21 Billion of the 22 Billion budgeted for 2018 funding cycle. A total of 707 332 Students have been funded in 2018. In partnership with DHET, allowances were standardised with improved equity between TVETS and Universities. Institutions and students have been consulted and new rules and guidelines updated, canvassed and communicated” he reported.
The Administrator also reported that overall, 90% of funding decisions have been made for all applications, and only 33 000 are outstanding. “All student allowances are on a cash basis, enabling students to better manage finances, and NSFAS has approximately disbursed 50% of allowances to 229,877 students totaling to R345,616, 900 as of 10 February”, he added.
Both the Minister and the Administrator recognised the support of the institutions and student leaders, in achieving this great milestone; ensuring that students get their allowances on time.
“I am pleased that students and management are talking and working together to address the obstacles confronted by students. We can always find solutions” Pandor said.
South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa delivered the 25th State Of The Nation Address(SONA) in Parliament last night and this is what he had to say about funding for higher education through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme
* In line with government’s commitment to the right of access to higher education for the poor, last year we introduced free higher education for qualifying first year students. Thanks to this initiative, links have been re-established with all institutions, and institution heads and student leaders have played a critical role in communicating with students. The scheme is being phased in over a five year period until all undergraduate students who qualify in terms of the criteria can benefit.
* Stabilising the business processes of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will also be a priority in the coming year so that it is properly capacitated to carry out its critical role in supporting eligible students.
* We are concerned about developments on some campuses this week, especially reports of violence and intimidation. Of particular concern, is the tragic death of Mlungisi Madonsela, a student at the Durban University of Technology. We extend our deepest condolences to his family and call on law enforcement agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident.
* We call on student representatives and university authorities to work together to find solutions to the challenges that students are facing.