Nsfas Chairperson of the Board, Ernest Khosa recently admitted that despite the significant improvements in the bursary scheme’s administration over the years, Nsfas currently does not have any funding reserves.
This, according to Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande is partly due to the changes that were necessitated by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in a R6.8 billion shortfall for the bursary scheme last year.
While addressing stakeholders at the Nsfas 30th-anniversary celebration on Thursday last week, Nzimande stated that the R35 billion budget, which was allocated was utilised to cover the extended academic year of 2020. The DHET provided an additional R6.4 billion to address the existing shortfall.
Nzimande attributed the shortfall to the fact Nsfas had to keep making allowance payments even while students were no longer on campus due to Covid-19 restrictions. This was a component of the plan to make it easier for students to participate in multimodal teaching and learning.
During the 2019–2020 financial year, about 500 000 students submitted applications for Nsfas student funding, the following fiscal year, this number rose to 700 000.
The Minister also made the point that the economy of the nation, as it stands now, affects the number of people who will be eligible for funding and as a result, Nsfas expects the demand for funding to continue to rise in the future.
Furthermore, during his speech Minister, Blade Nzimande, also stated that the government has set aside R80 billion over the next three years to lower the barrier of entry to tertiary education for poor prospective students.
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