Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande hosted a media briefing on Monday to talk about funding decisions for 2021.
The Minister said he understands the pressure that students and institutions are under, as funding decisions for 2021 have not yet been finalised.
Many students have not yet been able to register, as they have not received feedback from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The Minister said NSFAS has not finalised funding decisions because it is facing a shortfall.
“NSFAS is facing a shortfall on its funding for 2021. Which means it has been unable to confirm funding for new university students.” said Nzimande.
This shortfall was caused by a number of factors, including:
The extended academic year — due to Covid-19, students had to receive allowances even when universities were closed.
Budget cuts for all departments
Deteriorating economy — due to families facing financial troubles and retrenchment, more students meet the funding requirements
While funding for new students remains uncertain, the Minister has confirmed that NSFAS will be funding all returning beneficiaries who meet the criteria for returning for their studies.
“In this regard, the usual processes apply, whereby institutions share the relevant registration data and information with NSFAS which is then able to confirm the funded lease of students with institutions.” said Nzimande
He said Higher Education is working with the Treasury to make sure no deserving students are left behind.
In an effort to ease the pressure on students and institutions, Nzimande said all universities will extend their registration period for first time entering students for 2 weeks in order to make up for the delays in the funding process.
New students will have to wait until all funding decisions have been confirmed by NSFAS.