Thirty years ago, government introduced a grant for students from low-income families to make tertiary education more accessible and affordable. Today, NSFAS continues to help matriculants make the leap from school to university, diploma or training college by providing financial aid when other funding sources are not available.

Although Higher Education takes pride in the strides made over the past few years, it has had its fair share of challenges. The new era of digital learning was a tall order to fill and although we have worked tirelessly towards ensuring digital literacy, there is still more work to be done.

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) celebrated its 30th birthday. Previously known as the Tertiary Education Fund of South Africa, this scheme is available to students with financial need.

Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande on 8 November shared how the NSFAS bursary scheme has been pivotal in increasing enrolment by ensuring that it makes higher education accessible to people from working class backgrounds. The audience received the speech with great enthusiasm and applauded the minister enthusiastically.

In a statement, Nzimande has also highlighted the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (Nsfas) financial issues:

A major implication of the economic impact of Covid-19 has been illustrated by the fact that the government bursary had experienced a shortfall on its funding for 2021. 

At least a budget allocation of R35 billion was used to cover the extended academic year of 2020 and Higher Education provided an additional R6.4 billion to address this shortfall. 

Student finance received sustained media attention, particularly on the Nsfas initiative. To a large extent, this shortfall is believed to have been driven by Nsfas having to continue paying student allowances; and this too formed part of the strategy to facilitate students’ access to multimodal teaching and learning

A significant impact has been observed in the ability of institutions to meet their sustainability targets in terms of operational spending. In the context of this situation, Nsfas activated its business continuity plan to facilitate the continuous funding to students and students of higher learning, resolve student application queries, processing of appeals and general assistance to institutions using virtual platforms to administer funding.

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Nzimande has since congratulated the Nsfas Board, its management and all employees who worked tirelessly to decrease the negative impact of the pandemic in our Post Education and Training system. 

According to NSFAS, approx 500 000 students applied for funding in the 2019/2020 financial year and this number increased to 700 000 in the next financial year.

This is an indication that there is an increased demand for the government bursary, the department’s Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela attributed this to parents and caregivers having lost their jobs due to the pandemic, retrenchments, and reduced income, thus qualifying the prospective students for funding.



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