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Majority Of Universities Negatively Impacted By NSFAS Allowances Cap

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Majority Of Universities Negatively Impacted By NSFAS Allowances Cap

The NSFAS allowance cap for student housing has made finding places to live difficult for students, as the allowance does not allow them to afford accommodation near their campuses. This cap on accommodation allowances is now being appealed by many universities.

Majority Of Universities Negatively Impacted By NSFAS Allowances Cap

Accommodation, transportation, food, and other living expenses are covered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). NSFAS capped the private accredited accommodation allowance for university students at R45 000 for the 2023 academic year, causing many students to struggle to find housing.

As long as the NSFAS accommodation cap was appropriate for the areas in which the universities are located, Universities South Africa (USAF) supported it. Universities submitted appeal letters to the bursary scheme, stating that the cap amount of R45 000 was insufficient for housing in their areas.

Dr Phetiwe Matutu, Chief Executive Officer of the USAF, has asked the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Innovation to request a report from NSFAS on the types of accommodation around universities, since the report deals with research on this issue. The NSFAS and USAF engaged on 5 and 6 October 2022, and the USAF did not recommend a single cap for all national institutions. It did suggest, however, that the policy be tested in a few institutions, taking into account their demographics.

It is estimated that only 10 institutions are eligible for the cap amount and 15 are not. UNISA is not affected by the cap amount.Depending on an institution’s ability, some institutions can pay for the difference between the cap amount and the actual rent required by accommodation providers for students.

According to Professor Francis Petersen, Chairperson of USAF’s Finance and Investment Committee, student housing should be self-sufficient and not subsidised by universities.

According to Petersen, university contributions are usually used for tuition at the University of the Free State (UFS). To assist students who cannot afford tuition, UFS has set aside an estimated R120 million.

This matter is being discussed with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation and his department. The accommodation allowance capping by NSFAS does not negatively impact at least ten higher education institutions. Despite this, at least ten universities have appealed, and at least five more are planning to appeal. UNISA is not affected by the accommodation cap.

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