Students should not pay price for poor administration – Chantel King

UNISA and NSFAS decided to reduce 2021 new student intake by 20 000

Students should not pay the price for NSFAS and UNISA's poor administration 

13 January 2021

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the University of South Africa (UNISA) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) asking them to clarify the decision to reduce the 2021 new student intake by 20 000.

This week Higher Education Minister, Blade Ndzimande, announced that UNISA should reduce their first-year student intake by 20 000 as compensation for the previous year’s over-enrollment by the same number. According to the Minister, NSFAS cannot financially support the vast over-enrollment error and as a result, announced the decision of the enrolment reduction.

This decision will be a major blow for first-year students who pinned their hopes on UNISA and NSFAS to kickstart their academic careers. Many of these students planned their academic year based on their initial acceptance letters from UNISA and should not be at the short end of the stick due to the university’s transgressions.

It is for this reason that the DA has written to the two institutions, to ensure accountability but also to establish whether they have turned every stone to not compromise the affected students’ studies.

In our correspondence to UNISA and NSFAS, the DA seeks clarification of the following points:

How did UNISA's administration manage to enroll over and above the enrollment limit for NSFAS students?

Even though UNISA over-enrolled NSFAS applications above the limited capacity, how and why did NSFAS approve these students?

Once NSFAS has reached its maximum capacity in terms of applications, how does the institution ensure that no more applications are accepted?

Whether all other potential solutions have been exhausted to prevent students from being excluding them from the education system?

What measures have the two institutions put in place to ensure that this error does not happen again?

This over-enrollment is clearly the result of poor planning and coordination on the part of NSFAS and UNISA and thousands of students’ academic futures now hang in the balance. They should not be punished for poor administration on the part of these institutions.

The DA holds the view that both NSFAS and UNISA should make provisions for the absorption of new students and that UNISA should keep their original maximum capacity amount, without the reduction of 20 000 new registrations as compensation for administrative errors made the previous year.

Issued by Chantel KingDA Shadow Minister for Higher Education, Science & Technology, 13 January 2021