Thousands Of Students Suffering Due To NSFAS Delays

Thousands Of Students Suffering Due To NSFAS Delays. Students who are expected to begin the second academic term this week with no word of when they would receive the allowance.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has criticized the delayed announcement of funding decisions for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), for the 2023 academic year.

Thousands Of Students Suffering Due To NSFAS Delays

In a statement released by the student union, SAUS reminds the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and NSFAS of the warning they gave earlier this year, that prolonging the release of funding decisions for NSFAS applicants would “send the sector into a pandemonium.”

“The union, back in January, flagged and bemoaned the planned late release of funding decisions, warning it would send the sector into a pandemonium, against our wishes we conceded to the release of funding decisions by NSFAS for the 6th of February 2023,” stated SAUS.

Pandemonium has in fact erupted, in the form of student protests taking place at various universities across the country, in relation to financial blocks, registration struggles, lack of student accommodation, and issues surrounding NSFAS, causing a considerable amount of chaos on campuses.

The protests began during the week of 13 February 2023, first at the University of Cape Town (UCT), but have now spread to other universities such as the University of the Western Cape (UWC), Wits UniversityUniversity of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), and North West University (NWU).

NSFAS provides bursaries to assist students with their studies who don’t have the financial means to do so themselves. Before beginning an academic year, university students have to register within a certain time frame, and generally involves paying a registration fee.

Beneficiaries of the NSFAS bursary have been experiencing delays in their funds being paid on time for this year; funds which cover tuition costs and the registration fee.

Many registration periods of tertiary institutions have closed, leaving many students with incomplete registrations; until a student can successfully register, they cannot continue studying and keep up with academics.

Applicants, who are still awaiting feedback regarding their application statuses, have now grown impatient with the bursary scheme, stating that they are frustrated with the pending status of their applications. Their lack of patience with the scheme’s funding is further driven by their current open enrollment registrations, whose funding is dependent on NSFAS approval.

NSFAS is notoriously delayed when it comes to paying allowances on time, and this year, the bursary scheme was also delayed in announcing funding decisions, which lets applicants know if their applications have been accepted or rejected.

READ ALSO: Nsfas Living Allowances Increased By 10% In 2023

This is a dilemma that is not in their control.

According to SAUS, over 200 000 students are “in limbo”, as they have been left stranded by NSFAS.

“As we speak, NSFAS hasn’t concluded their processes, and yet, the majority of universities have closed their registrations, whilst the poor are still waiting for the scheme to finalize their processes,” said the student union.

NSFAS also covers accommodation fees, and because beneficiaries (who were approved by the scheme) have not yet received their funds, they were unable to secure the accommodation they were accepted for, because of the delay with NSFAS.

“Whilst NSFAS applicants and beneficiaries, who are the poor and working class, were awaiting confirmation of funding from NSFAS, their spaces (which they’d been admitted to) were being assumed by rich students who can pay for their own studies, and consequently thousands of poor and working-class students lost their university spaces due to this failure by NSFAS,” stated SAUS.

Several students at various institutions involved in the protests are also dealing with an accommodation crisis, which was one factor that lead to protest action in the first place.

Many students have been left stranded and homeless, resorting to sleep in labs and lecture halls. In addition to the lack of space/available student accommodation, private accommodation prices have been raised “to astronomical levels”, surpassing the threshold stipulated by NSFAS.

These price hikes are a matter of concern, as allegations of collusion and unauthorized increasesNSFAS have been circulating, and many students have been unable to pay rent with the allowances they receive from NSFAS.

NSFAS, as of a meeting held with SAUS and the DHET, began to work on NSFAS appeals and will be releasing appeal decisions on a continuous basis as they work through the appeals, according to SAUS.

“For all other Appeals, in particular complex ones, the Appeals tribunal (which will consist of SAUS representation) shall seat on the 13th of March 2023, to adjudicate and finalize the appeals,” concluded the student union.


Demzyportal Category: NSFAS

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