The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) takes note of the article in Sowetan of November 17, 2021 which prompted further media inquiries to NSFAS. Note that the title is factually misleading. While we appreciate the editorial guidelines and standards that govern newsrooms, we do so with the expectation that journalists will meet the highest standards of accuracy and trust.
NSFAS can confirm that it is currently holding consultations with stakeholders regarding the proposed NSFAS 2022 eligibility criteria and eligibility conditions for financial assistance (Funding Guidelines). These eligibility criteria will enter into force from the 2022 academic year, with certain transitional arrangements to be implemented in 2023.
NSFAS Law 56 of 1999 directs the Council to develop criteria and conditions for the award of scholarships to eligible students in consultation with the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, among other provisions.
The Board believes that for NSFAS to be an effective and efficient provider of financial assistance in a sustainable and responsive manner, all stakeholders must be involved. It is for this reason that, for the first time, NSFAS is consulting all relevant stakeholders on the proposed funding guidelines.
Stakeholders consulted include student administration, university rectors, directors of technical and vocational education and training colleges, certain spheres of government and others. All the contributions of these stakeholders will be taken into account in the final document which will be presented to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation for consideration.
Under normal circumstances, NSFAS would not have communicated to the public until the consultation process was completed and the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation had considered the proposed reforms. .
For memory :
- The current consultation process concerns the proposed policy changes for 2022.
- This process is not complete. More actors in the higher education sector are consulted
- All stakeholders have the opportunity to make contributions and the process is ongoing
- All contributions will be reviewed and recommendations will be made to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation.
On the proposed 75% progression rule:
- The proposed policy aims to encourage students to pass their courses and / or modules and not the passing grade according to the article.
- The proposed policy, if implemented, would only apply from the 2023 academic year and would not apply to students entering higher education for the first time, also known as FTEN students. This is in recognition of the transition many students make from high school to university.
It should be noted that NSFAS funds students who might otherwise not be able to access higher education to ensure that they qualify and ultimately contribute to the economy. Therefore, this progression criterion aims to ensure that students complete their qualifications on time to ensure a return on investment and provide more opportunities for deserving students.
All other matters, including student accommodation, which are contained in the proposed funding guidelines are subject to consultative processes. All these political considerations are aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the program and the well-being of the students in order to guarantee their success. In this case, the entity has the South African Union of Students on the proposed guidelines and as an entity we look forward to their submission.
Please note that NSFAS will not accept interviews on this matter. The final political position is still under deliberation.