Thousands of Students Face Accommodation Crisis in 2024, Warns OUTA. The Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has raised concerns about the accommodation crisis looming for thousands of students set to be funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in 2024.
NSFAS Accommodation Challenge
Despite the NSFAS’s requirement of 397,000 beds for funded students in 2024, only 6.5% of the necessary beds were accredited by October 4, 2023. OUTA describes this situation as a ticking time bomb with the academic year fast approaching.
Disturbing Findings from OUTA Investigation
OUTA conducted an investigation into student accommodation tenders at NSFAS, revealing alarming findings. The organization believes there won’t be enough beds to meet the demand for student accommodation in 2024.
Comprehensive Bursaries and Accommodation Concerns
NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries covering tuition fees, registration fees, meals, stationery, and accommodation for over a million students in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges and Universities. OUTA fears that inadequate accommodation could negatively impact student progress.
NSFAS Initiatives and Challenges
To address accommodation concerns, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) published the Policy on the Minimum Norms and Standards for Student Housing at Public Universities. NSFAS launched a student accommodation portal, but OUTA anticipates thousands of students lacking accommodation in 2024 due to potential delays in accreditation.
Accreditation Process and Concerns
Accommodation providers must register their properties on the NSFAS portal for consideration. Heyneke from OUTA anticipates that the accreditation gap between the needed 497,000 beds and the available 25,800 beds by October 2023 could lead to an emergency at the start of the academic year.
Urgent Call for Stakeholder Action
OUTA emphasizes the need for stakeholders in the higher education sector to address potential issues before the academic year begins. They suggest that NSFAS acknowledge accreditation checks done by universities on property developers.
Economic Viability Challenges
OUTA highlights the economic unviability for developers due to the R45,000 accommodation cap, exacerbating the situation. The report suggests that mismanagement is a significant cause and calls for accountability.
OUTA Plan of Action
OUTA plans to submit its report to the Department of Higher Education, the Higher Education Portfolio Committee, and relevant stakeholders. They also aim to share findings with the Special Investigating Unit and the Auditor-General for further investigation into NSFAS tenders.