Department of Higher Education and Training
Cabinet has decided that funding should be reprioritised from the higher education and training department’s budget so that all deserving National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) qualifying students are able to receive funding support for the 2021 academic year.
The higher education, science and innovation minister, Blade Nzimande, announced this in a statement on 2021 funding decisions for prospective students and the commencement of the 2021 academic year.
Cabinet this week discussed the funding shortfall issue at NSFAS impacting on “first-time entering students in public universities”.
The minister pointed out that further reprioritisation can only be considered as part of the Medium Term Budget Policy process later in the year.
The minister confirmed that NSFAS will now be able to release funding decisions and the registration process at public universities can continue as planned.
“No NSFAS-qualifying students have been affected by these delays, as universities had agreed to extend the registration period to ensure that students without funding decisions would not be prevented from accessing a place that they qualify for.”
The minister announced that cabinet has also decided that a comprehensive review of government’s student funding policy is urgently required.
The department has been instructed to immediately commence with the review and report back to cabinet.
“The purpose of this process will be to look carefully at the funding requirements to support students in financial need in the post-school education and training system, to model the holistic requirements of students, including those from poor and working class backgrounds as well as the missing middle.”
Growing student debt in the system will be one issue under the microscope.