R2.3bn recommended for student finance shortfall | Fin24
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R2.3bn recommended for student finance shortfall

Dec 15 2015 20:03
Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg - The Presidential task team appointed during the #FeesMustFall campaign has recommended that R2.3bn be made available to address the shortfall in student funding, the presidency said on Tuesday.

The task team submitted its report to President Jacob Zuma.

"Government and the universities will make contributions towards addressing the shortfall," Zuma said in a statement communicating the recommendations.

"Upfront fee and registration payments should be implemented across the system for those who can afford to pay. Students who meet the NSFAS means test should not be required to pay upfront payments."

This was a short-term solution to the 0% fee increment.

Zuma said the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) shortfall had been quantified at R4.582bn.

The task team recommended that R2.543bn of this amount be made available from the fiscus in the form of loans to provide short-term debt relief for 71 753 students who were unable to access financial aid from 2013 to 2015.

The other R2.039bn was needed for the 2016/17 financial year to ensure that current unfunded students received NSFAS support next year.

"This amount will also be made available through reprioritisation from the fiscus," Zuma said.

Other recommendations included:

- NSFAS should improve its administrative systems and engage with universities and students to ensure that the rules of the scheme were clearly understood;

- Rules pertaining to academic eligibility of students for NSFAS should be applied consistently. Continuing students who meet the NSFAS academic criteria and the university's criteria for proceeding, should continue to be funded for their whole qualification;

- Universities should review and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their communication system with students on all issues including NSFAS matters;

- A process must be put in place immediately to develop a new financing model, which includes the private banking sector and other business interests, to incorporate options for funding the "missing middle" that provides loans at favourable interest rates without having to provide surety.

This had to be developed during 2016 with the view to testing it in the 2017 academic year for full implementation in 2018. Investment should be solicited from the full range of stakeholders to enable implementation on the scale required;

- Additional prospective students seeking spaces at universities, and who did not apply in time during 2015 must be directed to the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH), an integrated service providing career advice and development services and referrals to post-school education and training opportunities and;

- While the right to protest in a democracy is protected and supported, all students, student leaders and formations should disavow anarchy and the destruction of university and private property.

Zuma thanked the task team for the work it had done in less than two months.

"I believe that the recommendations will assist all of us as we pursue our mission to ensure that no poor, academically deserving student is denied access to higher education and training, and that affordable higher education for all is achieved, while ensuring sustainable quality public higher education provisioning for our country."

The president said he would announce the members of a commission which will look into introducing free higher education among other things, soon.

nsfas  |  jacob zuma  |  #feesmustfall


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