A Budget Cut Will Lead To Fewer Students Receiving NSFAS In 2024. The approaching 2024 academic year in the Post School Education Sector (PSET) has raised concerns due to a decline in NSFAS allocations attributed to budget cuts.
Stakeholder Collaboration for a Smooth Academic Year
Stakeholders in the sector, including the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), student leadership, university representatives, and NSFAS, recently convened to address various concerns and ensure preparedness for the upcoming academic year.
Consequence Management Emphasized by NSFAS Board
Ernest Khosa, the chairperson of the NSFAS board, underscored the need for robust consequence management to address issues related to direct payments. Recent investigations suggested possible relationships between key individuals and Fintech companies involved in paying allowances to students.
Challenges Faced by NSFAS
Khosa highlighted challenges faced by NSFAS, including legal disputes initiated by the CEO and concerns arising from a review of procurement systems. Budget cuts imposed by the National Treasury were identified as a potential threat to timely allowance payments.
Potential Impact of Budget Cuts on Student Funding
Acting CEO Masile Ramorwesi presented calculations indicating that a 10% reduction in university funding could result in 87,712 students being unfunded in the 2024 academic year.
Committee’s Concerns and Recommendations
The committee acknowledged the severe consequences of budget cuts on higher education institutions, expressing concerns about load shedding affecting online applications. Emphasis was placed on collective responsibility among stakeholders to secure the academic futures of South African students.
University Councils Urged to Support Accountability
Committee Chairperson Nompendulo Mkhatshwa urged university councils to play a larger role in ensuring readiness for 2024. Honest and transparent stakeholder engagement was identified as a key factor in mitigating sector challenges.
Enrollment Projections and Funding Imbalances
Universities South Africa (USAf) projected over 210,000 first-time students enrolling in 2023, with concerns raised about funding imbalances between university and TVET college students. The South African Public Colleges Organisation (SAPCO) advocated for greater equilibrium in funding and proposed direct leases for student accommodation.
SAUS Advocates for NSFAS Monitoring
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) emphasized the persistent challenges faced by students in securing accommodation and called for close monitoring of NSFAS to mitigate potential instability, especially for economically disadvantaged backgrounds.