The Higher Education Institutions are in the midst of administering the 2023 registration process and are set to reopen campus grounds soon. However, many are concerned about whether Nsfas will be able to secure enough beds to house all funded students in time.
Earlier this week Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande revealed that there is a shortage of over 400 000 beds for student accommodation for public tertiary institutions, with rural based Universities and TVET Colleges being the most affected.
Nzimande expressed that the accommodation shortage exposes students to immense vulnerabilities, such as, serious crimes and gender-based violence (GBV).
He added, “Some students stay in facilities that are unconducive to performance in their academic work.”
After several site visits to student accommodation facilities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme was obliged to improve the situation by using a more hands-on approach.
To address this challenge, the Department of Higher Education and Training and its entity, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), will employ the allocated budget for infrastructure and student accommodation to partner with investors and property developers, to stimulate the rapid construction of university residences in a manner that will enable the state to eventually own and control these assets.
The Minster explained that although NSFAS processes for securing student accommodation are currently underway, all institutions will apply their own existing process to allocate accommodation, this includes both universities and TVET colleges.
“The new reforms by NSFAS, will not apply in this current registration period. NSFAS will give institutions three months’ notice prior to the implementation of the newaccommodation dispensation,” continued Nzimande.
One of the main initiatives that are part of the scheme’s direct approach at managing student accommodation is the NSFAS Student Accommodation Portal, where they will manage the accreditation of accommodation providers, grading of the proposed accommodation, assigning the cost-based grading, as well as allocating housing to students.
The scheme launched the new student accommodation portal in December 2022 and forty-four accreditation agents were appointed to start with the accreditation of accommodation.
Nzimande says that since the opening of the portal, there are 1 120 accommodation providers that have applied on the site, with 574 272 beds listed.
The Minister has encouraged all institutions and private accommodation providers to continue to apply for accreditation via the Nsfas-portal to ensure that more beds and spaces are obtained.
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