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NSFAS-funded students may register at universities without paying fees upfront – Nzimande

NSFAS-funded students may register at universities without paying fees upfront – Nzimande
The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, briefs the media on the readiness for the 2023 academic year. (Photo: Ntswe Mokoena / GCIS)

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande has announced that NSFAS students can register at tertiary institutions without paying registration fees upfront.

Universities must allow all NSFAS-funded students to register for the 2023 academic year without paying their registration fees upfront.

NSFAS will be paying the registration fees directly to universities on 6 February 2023. Students will be able to use their confirmation letters from NSFAS to verify their funding and no NSFAS-funded student shall be barred from registration which has happened in previous years.

This was announced by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande during a media briefing on Tuesday, 24 January.

“To cater for the first few months of their academic journey while applicants wait for their application results, NSFAS will make upfront payments to institutions to cover costs related to registration, tuition fees and living allowances,” the minister said.

He said the NSFAS application window was the longest it had yet been — from 28 September 2022 to the closing date of 31 January 2023. Students were encouraged to apply and would receive their application results on 6 February 2023. The academic year at various institutions rolls out from mid-February.

As of January 2023, the student debt at higher education institutions is more than R16.5-billion. Nzimande said that such levels of debt posed a threat to the sustainability of tertiary education in South Africa.

He announced that his department was working on a new student funding model, while a funding scheme to address those who formed the missing middle was also being finalised. He affirmed that the promise of free higher education was among the most important commitments made by the government.

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He congratulated the 2022 matriculants for achieving an 80.1% pass rate, despite the challenges of Covid and rolling blackouts.

“Before I provide further details on our state of readiness for the academic year 2023, let me indicate that our sector is working on a sector-based strategy and plan to respond to the negative effects of load shedding and the resurgence of the Covid-19 Omicron subvariant named Kraken,” said Nzimande.  

On the issue of the Covid-19 subvariant, he said the department had prioritised maximum safety on campuses and was working to manage public health protocols to do so.

Another issue Nzimande addressed during the briefing was gender-based violence.

“We have noted incidents of gender-based violence on campuses and this has in many cases resulted in female students being brutally killed. The brutal murders of Nosicelo Mtebeni, Uyinene Mrwetyana, Precious Ramabulana, Jesse Hess and many others highlight the vulnerability of female students to gender-based violence,” said the minister.

The department plans to launch the “Transforming MENtalities Initiative” aimed at mobilising men to become part of creating a future free of gender-based violence. DM


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