Student Debt Poses A Threat To Higher Education's Stability


The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has announced that while solutions are being developed and implemented to combat various challenges within the higher education sector, student debt is one challenge that is particularly concerning.



During his annual address regarding the state of readiness of tertiary institutions before the 2023 academic year kicks off, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, highlighted the particular worry related to student debt.

According to the Minister, student debt poses a serious threat to the future sustainability of South Africa's higher institutions of learning. 

Current student debt is around a shocking figure of more than R16.5 billion; a burden which weighs heavily on both students and the various higher education institutions across the country.

This cost of debt is about R1.5 billion per annum, which, according to the Minister and the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), "could be directed towards infrastructure development and/or growing the academic system." 

Stakeholders raised concerns regarding this student debt challenge, also pointing out that the model currently in place has not changed, and the ever-increasing debt would inevitably cripple the system.

The Department has been working on developing a new and improved Comprehensive Student Funding Model in order to better handle student debt, which is hoping to be concluded soon.  

Student debt has become the source of student anguish and upheaval at the beginning of each year.

The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has indicated an urgency for the Higher Education parliamentary Portfolio Committee to sponsor a motion to Parliament on the clearance of student debts.

The Union’s spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa has also expressed that student debt has led to a high dropout rate because students are left with no other option but to find employment whilst studying in order to pay their study fees. 

While the DHET is working on completing the Funding Model, it has given Nsfas the green light to allow accepted students to register for the 2023 academic year. 

In the interim, NSFAS has agreed with all our institutions to allow all the confirmed NSFAS funded students to register for the 2023 academic year. This arrangement also applies to all students who qualify under the Historic Debt Funds and Close Out Report.

"As a result, we appeal to institutions to register these students and allow administrative processes between NSFAS and the institutions to continue."




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