R1bn in emergency NSFAS funding needed to support university first years - Belinda Bozzoli

DA MPL says an estimated two-thirds of 150 000 matrics with bachelor passes will require funding

R1 billion in emergency funding needed to support first year university students

08 January 2015

The DA will write to the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr. Blade Nzimande, urging him to request immediate emergency funding from Treasury to aid the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) so that they may provide much needed financial support to incoming first year students.  

Based on previous years, we estimate that R1 billion in emergency funding will be needed to support those students who achieved bachelor passes to go to university. 

The Department of Higher Education and Training will provide R10.2 billion in 2015 in funding through NSFAS to tertiary institutions, two thirds of which (R6.8 billion) will go to universities. However, NSFAS has admitted that they are only able to fund roughly 50% of all students eligible for funding and that the majority of funding goes to second and third year students, making far less available to first time entrants. 

The government announced on Monday evening that 150,752 (28.3%) pupils obtained so-called 'bachelor' passes in the 2014 matric year, which make them eligible for university entrance. 

Although there was a decrease in the number of students obtaining bachelor passes from the 171,755 (30.6%) in 2013, the fact remains that offering a student a place in university is one thing - paying for it is quite another.

Of the 150,000 students that achieved bachelor passes, who would be first time entrants, two thirds (100,000) will require funding. While roughly 60,000 (40%) have funding, a further 40,000 first year students still require funding and this will require a further R1 billion to make up for the shortfall to fund them.

In July last year, NSFAS admitted to the Portfolio Committee that Higher Education and Training that despite the increase in funds for financial aid it could only fund 50% of the students eligible for study loans and bursaries.

When only 12% of students made it through 12 years of schooling and achieved a bachelor's pass, it is a dire situation that not all of these students will be able to study further due to a lack of funding.

If the Minster is at all serious about avoiding the protests that broke out at a number of universities last year, after hundreds of desperate students learned there were no funds for them, he must urgently secure the funding needed.

The Minister has failed to provide sufficient funding to support those students who have made it this far. 

The lack of NSFAS funding is a government failing. Last year, the failure by the government to provide the requisite funding increased student desperation to the point of rioting which resulted in deaths and destruction of property. This must be avoided this year.

Tertiary education is imperative for the growth of South Africa's citizens and their future opportunities for success in the working world. The DA will continue to fight to make sure that as many students are afforded this opportunity to better their futures. 

Statement issued by Prof Belinda Bozzoli MP, DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education, January 8 2015

Click here to sign up to receive our free daily headline email newsletter