SABC News - Funding for new university students hangs in the balance :Wednesday 10 February 2016

Funding for new university students hangs in the balance

Wednesday 10 February 2016 20:00

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has reiterated that free higher education is government policy and will be implemented incrementally.(SABC)

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is still assessing how many qualifying first year students are at risk of not receiving funding due to possible shortfalls.

NSFAS and the Higher Education and Training Department has briefed Parliament on enrollments and funding for 2016.

The Department has undertaken to source more funding.

Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has reiterated that free higher education is government policy and will be implemented incrementally. “The fact that we are not able to cover everyone must not be used to rubbish this achievement. Many poor young people have had their lives changed as a result of NSFAS.”

Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges expect a shortfall of just over R4 billion while universities expect a shortfall of about R5.5 billion.

This means the R6.1 billion additional funding for Universities and TVET colleges may not be enough to meet the demand.

NSFAS is awaiting the registration process to quantify the exact shortfall. According to Deputy Director General from the Department of Higher Education, Dr. Dianne Parker, “In terms of the new students who are being registered (the first time entry students) getting those numbers within 10 day of the registration will enable us to quantify exactly how many of these are covered with this additional funding now.”

While returning students will be safe, the funding for new students hangs in the balance. The over R2 billion additional funding has been set aside to cover returning students.

There will be no fee increases this year. The Department has reiterated that it will finalise a fee increment framework by the end of September, in time for the announcement of possible fee increases for the 2017 year.

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