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A Smooth Start to the 2024 Academic Year Is Planned

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A Smooth Start to the 2024 Academic Year Is Planned

A Smooth Start to the 2024 Academic Year Is PlannedThe 2024 academic year in South Africa is approaching, with expectations of a substantial student enrollment across universities and TVET colleges. This article provides insights into the preparations made by the Department of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation.

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Achievements and Challenges from 2023

Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, applauds the achievements of the 2023 higher education class, emphasizing their commendable 82.9% pass rate. The matric class of 2023 is poised to enter higher education in 2024, setting the stage for the challenges and successes of the upcoming academic year.

Stakeholder Engagements and Readiness Assessment

To ensure a smooth start to the 2024 academic year, the committee engaged with key stakeholders, including Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, DHET, NSFAS, student unions, and the TVET Governor’s Council. Discussions focused on evaluating readiness and addressing potential challenges, fostering collaboration for effective planning.

Addressing Concerns and Ensuring Financial Stability

Challenges faced by NSFAS, particularly delays in concluding matters from the previous year, raised concerns about potential disruptions in student registration for 2024. The committee stressed the urgency of resolving these issues and sought the Ministerial Task Team Report on the Comprehensive Student Funding Model, emphasizing financial assistance for missing-middle students.

Addressing Allegations and Ensuring Transparency

Allegations against Minister Nzimande and NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa, stemming from leaked audio recordings, prompted the committee to investigate. Transparency and accountability in addressing concerns related to the awarding of a contract for NSFAS allowances are crucial to maintaining the integrity of the higher education sector.

Conclusion

In anticipation of the 2024 academic year, South Africa’s higher education sector is actively addressing challenges and fostering collaboration among stakeholders. With a focus on transparency, financial stability, and timely support, the preparations aim to ensure a seamless start to the academic year for millions of prospective students.

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NSFAS News

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

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How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students. More than one million students in South Africa benefit from comprehensive bursaries provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Despite this support, student unions, particularly the South African Students Congress (SASCO), have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the current funding system and have called for improvements.

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Challenges Faced by Students

In 2023, NSFAS funded over a million students enrolled in approved courses at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. However, the scheme faced challenges in effectively assisting the poor and working-class students due to several issues. These challenges were partly attributed to the implementation of a direct allowance payment system, which led to irregularities and necessitated “consequence management.”

Controversy Over Allowance Distribution

The direct payment system, introduced in 2022, involved four companies handling student allowance payments. However, an investigation revealed potential conflicts of interest, leading to the dismissal of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo and termination of contracts with the service providers. Despite this, in 2024, NSFAS required students to register with these same companies for allowance distribution, drawing criticism from SASCO.

SASCO Criticisms and Demands

SASCO has accused the NSFAS Board of hypocrisy for reinstating allegedly irregular service providers. They argue that the current system exploits students, leading to delays, inefficiency, and unnecessary charges. SASCO calls for the implementation of recommendations from the Werksmans report, including terminating contracts with the companies.

Accommodation Crisis

SASCO also criticizes NSFAS for its indecisiveness in addressing the student accommodation crisis. While NSFAS launched an accommodation portal in 2022, SASCO argues that NSFAS has not taken practical steps to increase bed spaces in higher learning institutions and TVET Colleges. They demand immediate action to improve student living conditions.

Conclusion

The current NSFAS funding system faces criticism from student unions like SASCO, who call for more transparency, efficiency, and student-centered approaches. The ongoing controversies highlight the need for NSFAS to address these concerns promptly to ensure that students receive the support they need to succeed in their studies.

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