By Tsepiso Theko
The minister of higher education and training Dr Blade Nzimande has confirmed the financial tension that the department is under. In a statement, Nzimande explained that NSFAS has not yet been able to confirm if first time entering students will be funded for the financial year of 2021.
“NSFAS is facing a shortfall on its funding for 2021, which means that it has been unable to confirm funding for new university students” the minister explained.
The primary reason for this, as the minister stated, is the global pandemic which forced the department to fund students while at home and funding the extended academic year.
“This means we had an extended academic year which we did not allocate additional money for”.
Budget cuts across department and the unstable economy and job losses
also played a role in this.
“The deteriorating situation associated with budget cuts started a long time ago before COVID-19” added Dr Blade.
However this uncertainty does not apply to returning students as the minister has gladly announced that they are on the safe side if they meet the academic requirements to continue being funded.
The minister is still in discussions with the cabinet, national treasury and other stakeholders regarding funding. “The funding Guidelines for universities for 2021 will be finalized as soon as Cabinet has made a determination in this regard”
Registrations for first time entering students will be extended for two weeks so that first year students are not disadvantaged by this unresolved financial matter.
Read full statement here.