NSFAS Reveals Plan To Resolve Student Accommodation Challenges



Students are often required to move far away from their homes in the pursuit of a tertiary education qualification. Staying in appropriate accommodation that is conducive to learning it critical to a students success at a tertiary education institution. 



The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) provides comprehensive bursaries to deserving students enrolled at public tertiary institutions. These bursaries include providing funding for tuition fees, registration fees, food, learning materials and accommodation. 

The Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation has urged NSFAS to promptly address issues with its student accommodation portal. This includes improving the accreditation system, rectifying imbalances, and improving efficiency in accrediting service providers. 

In 2022, NSFAS launched an accommodation portal which allows accommodation providers to register their properties for consideration to house NSFAS-funded students. The portal was introduced to ensure students live in accommodation facilities that are conducive to learning. 

After an accommodation provider registers on the NSFAS accommodation portal, NSFAS sends accreditation officials to inspect the property. This is done to ensure the property is appropriate to house students and meets the criteria set by NSFAS. 

The parliamentary committee is concerned about backlogs in the accreditation system, which were adversely affecting service providers who had upgraded their properties to meet NSFAS standards. 

The Committee instructed NSFAS to bolster its human resources capacity to reduce these backlogs. Additionally, members inquired whether NSFAS had responded to a memo submitted by students during an August protest.

In August, Student leaders marched to parliament to reject the implementation of the NSFAS direct payment system. They also raised their concerns on other issues around the NSFAS accommodation challenges, bank charges for the NSFAS bank account, the 60 credit policy and delayed NSFAS appeal decisions.

Accrediting student accommodations was seen as crucial to ensure the proper allocation of funds and provide students with suitable living conditions, a view supported by the Committee. 

However, they sought an update on the accreditation status, especially in light of the student accommodation backlog. The Committee also enquired how NSFAS planned to enhance its capacity to expedite accreditation processes.

Currently, there are a total of 93,424 beds registered on the accommodation platform, with 58,444 beds having been paid for. Out of these, 21,903 have been accredited. 

Furthermore, NSFAS revealed that there is ongoing progress in reaching agreements with four TVET Colleges participating in a test pilot program. Notably, at one institution, students have already applied for accredited accommodation through the platform. The plan is to fully pilot the program in TVET Colleges in 2024.

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Nzimande talking about NSFAS Crises

More than a million students rely on funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) so they can pay the fees needed to obtain a tertiary education qualification. Challenges with the disbursement of funds suggest that their is a crises at NSFAS, an assertation that Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande denies. 




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