Challenges relating to the provision of student accommodation services still persist when it comes to students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The issue stems from the unconducive living conditions that some of these students are subjected by accommodation service providers.
Following a visit to some top universities and Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges across the country and these student housing service providers Nsfas CEO, Andile Nongongo revealed the bursary scheme’s plan to intervene to resolve the issue
NSFAS identified the following significant difficulties in private and institutionally owned student housing:
There are not enough beds available to accommodate students, and several institutions lack housing. There are times when the conditions of both privately owned and institutionally owned housing are unsuitable for residential and educational purposes.
The cost structure of university-owned housing is not uniform, and Private Accommodation Providers (PAPs) were not adequately monitored. In some cases, Nsfas allowances for student housing are used for reasons other than those that were intended and approved.
The Private Accommodation Providers’ accreditation method is run by institutions, is inconsistent, as well as vulnerable to fraud and corruption, and is not feasible for other institutions due to their lack of resources.
Furthermore, a Ministerial Committee established by the Minister of Higher Education and Training in 2011 to review the availability of student housing at universities and benchmark South African universities against one another and international institutions operating in comparable environments identified and confirmed some of these challenges.
The CEO of Nsfas also recognised the importance of backrooms, or small student housing providers, particularly on rural and township campuses. Nsfas is looking into methods and developing an approach to include these types of accommodations even though its goal is to ensure that all accommodations fulfil the basic requirements. Information about developments in this area will be shared appropriately.