The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has disputed reports that shacks have been accredited for student accommodation. They say the claims are misleading and reaffirmed their commitment to ensuring students live in housing that is conducive to learning.
NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries to students at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in South Africa. More than one million students are receiving funding from the bursary scheme.
Students receive money for tuition and registration fees as well as money for meals and stationery. They also receive a monthly accommodation allowance which allows them to live in housing close to their campus.
NSFAS recognises the importance of ensuring that its beneficiaries stay in accommodation that is conducive, supports learning and gives every student the opportunity to succeed.
NSFAS wants to ensure that students stay in accommodation that is conducive to their studies. It was therefore concerning when reports surfaced that students were residing in shacks
After being made aware of the claims, the NSFAS Board Ad hoc Committee on Student Accommodation sent in an internal audit to investigate the claims. This investigation encompassed meetings with the College management to better understand their student accommodation processes.
NSFAS says the college had reviewed the lease agreements signed by students and found no record of students residing in shacks. However, they noted that some students changed accommodation without updating lease agreements and college records.
NSFAS said these claims made it imperative that colleges be part of the Student Accommodation Pilot project. The project is aimed at ensuring NSFAS only pays for student accommodation that is conducive to studying and prevents students from living in inappropriate housing.
NSFAS is aware that the state of some private and institution-owned accommodations is not conducive for learning. This is one of the reasons that NSFAS undertakes a stringent process in ensuring that NSFAS beneficiaries stay in approved accredited accommodation.
In the accreditation process for student housing, NSFAS uses the DHET Norms and Standards for Housing. These norms enable higher learning institutions and colleges to accredit appropriate accommodation facilities.
NSFAS says it's crucial to highlight that there is a substantial gap between the high demand for student housing and its limited supply. This often leaves numerous students without convenient access to suitable accommodation near their educational institutions.
While some institutions have developed internal capacities to facilitate the accreditation of student housing, many still struggle to establish such capabilities. Consequently, there is a shortfall in implementing the DHET Norms and Standards for Student Accommodation within both institutional settings and in collaborations with potential investors and partners.
How The NSFAS Student Accommodation Accrediting Process Works
Step One: Accommodation providers register their accommodation on the NSFAS portal and provide location details, bed capacity, and other relevant information.
Step Two: Accreditation agents will digitally complete grading entries during physical inspections of these properties.
Step Three: A second-level/desktop grading process will assess and accredit all accommodation facilities, with results communicated to providers upon completion.
Step Four: Students can conveniently apply for accommodation through the NSFAS student accommodation portal. The portal features both privately-owned and institution-owned options that are NSFAS-accredited and approved.
NSFAS believes that by prioritising the academic needs and overall well-being of students, they can create an environment that fosters academic success and personal growth.
Our dedication to fulfilling our mandate as a funding agency is unwavering, as we are dedicated to supporting deserving students from poor and working-class backgrounds.
The financial aid scheme says they remain committed to ensuring that NSFAS beneficiaries have access to quality student accommodation that adequately supports their learning.