Access to suitable and affordable accommodation is one of the most common challenges NSFAS-funded students face. To improve the situation, Ernest Khosa, chairperson of NSFAS, revealed what the government and bursary scheme plan to do.
Good News NSFAS Improve Student Accommodation
Student accommodation in close proximity to places of study is a struggle thousands of South African tertiary education students face. Ernest Khosa, chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), has revealed the organization’s long-term housing goals.
Since apartheid ended in 1994, millions of South Africans have been able to enter the Post School Education and Training (PSET) sector. Although NSFAS acknowledges that this is a great step for the country, our institutions are not equipped to handle such a large influx of students so soon after apartheid.
What About Public Universities
Our public universities cannot provide housing for the high number of students who come in each year. As a result, thousands of students are left with no choice but to seek accommodation elsewhere. Typically, students will have to find private service providers and stay in private accommodations off-campus, where building owners and landlords often overcharge them, especially NSFAS-funded students, who know the government is paying for them.
In popular student areas, such as Cape Town and Rondebosch, owners are asking students for R9,000 a month, which is double what NSFAS provides.
Khosa condemns the fact that students get accepted to university but must then “fend for themselves” when they arrive due to a lack of housing. According to him, students should not have to deal with real estate, but rather have accommodation upon arrival.
What NSFAS imposed About Accommodation Cap
The NSFAS imposed a R45,000 accommodation cap at the beginning of the year, which gives funded students roughly R4,500 to spend on rent per month. Despite this, some students have been unable to afford housing due to landlords’ outrageous requests.
When thousands of students were left homeless, protests erupted across the country. The NSFAS claims that these students have since been placed in suitable housing, but this is not a problem that will disappear overnight, mainly because of the large increase in students applying to higher education institutions each year.
According to Khosa, student housing must meet appropriate criteria. In addition to being safe and secure, these buildings should be relatively quiet and provide appropriate study facilities, such as desks and working lights. The NSFAS wants to be able to monitor the quality of student housing nationwide.
In the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector, there is almost no accommodation available for students, since most TVET colleges do not provide housing.
NSFAS’ chairperson gave some insight into what the organization is planning to do to deal with this issue in the future during an interview with PowerFM on Friday morning. Khosa discussed the introduction of off-take agreements, in which NSFAS wants accommodation providers to house funded students. The NSFAS student accommodation portal will allow accommodation providers to register their housing for students. Over 1,400 private applications have been received by NSFAS so far.
State-owned or university-owned student housing is the ultimate goal of the bursary scheme. In this way, the institutions will be in control of student housing, making it more accessible to students. In this way, prices and standards of these facilities can be closely monitored and regulated as necessary.
Although the accommodation portal is up and running and 3,000 additional beds were provided by NSFAS at the end of last month, Khosa did not provide a date by which these targets should be met.
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