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Nzimande denies raising university fees in South Africa

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Nzimande denies raising university fees in South Africa

Nzimande denies raising university fees in South Africa. In response to reports indicating a potential approval of fee hikes in South African universities, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande rejects claims and clarifies his role in determining fees.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

Authority and Guidance in Fee Determination

Nzimande emphasizes that the power to set fees rests with University Councils, and his role is to provide guidance within a socio-economic framework. The Minister annually offers a framework to guide universities in determining their fee structures.

Minister Disappointment with Misinformation

Expressing disappointment, Nzimande criticizes organizations and the media for issuing public statements without understanding the fee determination process. The Higher Education Department remains committed to improving public comprehension of the higher education system.

Impact of Fee Increases on Missing|Middle Students

Fee hikes have the potential to disproportionately affect “missing-middle” students, whose household income is above R350,000 but below R600,000. These students, ineligible for NSFAS, face financial challenges in paying university fees.

Criticism from Wits University SRC

Anganathi Jack, a member of the Wits University SRC, criticizes the minister’s proposal as ill-informed and financially burdensome. This criticism comes amid challenges faced by students during the registration process for the new academic year.

Obstacles for Students and Warning on NSFAS Funding

Students with outstanding debts may face obstacles in continuing their studies, exacerbated by potential fee increases. The SRC acknowledges the rising operational costs for universities but warns that even NSFAS-funded students may struggle to cover these increases.

NSFAS Accommodation Cap and Shifting Burden

With NSFAS introducing an accommodation cap last year, any rise in residence costs may shift the burden of the increment to students, further complicating the financial landscape for those reliant on financial aid.

Conclusion

Blade Nzimande denies approving fee hikes at South African universities, stressing his role in guidance. Critics warn of financial burdens on students, especially the “missing-middle,” impacting education accessibility and affordability.

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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.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

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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