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NSFAS Unveils Comprehensive Strategy to Tackle Student Accommodation Challenges

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NSFAS Unveils Comprehensive Strategy to Tackle Student Accommodation Challenges

NSFAS Unveils Comprehensive Strategy to Tackle Student Accommodation Challenges. When pursuing higher education, students often find themselves far from home. In such cases, having appropriate accommodation conducive to learning becomes pivotal for their academic success at tertiary institutions.

NSFAS: Providing Holistic Bursaries for Tertiary Education

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) extends comprehensive bursaries to deserving students enrolled in public tertiary institutions. These bursaries encompass funding for tuition fees, registration fees, food, learning materials, and accommodation.

Committee on Higher Education Calls for Action

The Committee on Higher Education, Science, and Innovation has urged NSFAS to promptly address issues concerning its student accommodation portal. These issues involve enhancing the accreditation system, rectifying imbalances, and improving the efficiency of accrediting service providers.

NSFAS Launches Accommodation Portal

In 2022, NSFAS introduced an accommodation portal to enable accommodation providers to register their properties for consideration in housing NSFAS-funded students. This portal aims to ensure that students reside in facilities conducive to effective learning.

Rigorous Property Inspection Process

Upon registration on the NSFAS accommodation portal, accommodation providers undergo thorough inspections by NSFAS accreditation officials. This process ensures that the properties meet NSFAS criteria and are suitable for student housing.

Addressing Backlogs and Student Concerns

The parliamentary committee expresses concern about accreditation system backlogs, which adversely affect service providers who have upgraded their properties to meet NSFAS standards. NSFAS has been instructed to bolster its human resources capacity to alleviate these backlogs. Additionally, the committee inquired about NSFAS’s response to a memo submitted by students during an August protest.

Students Voice Concerns

In August, student leaders marched to parliament to protest against the implementation of the NSFAS direct payment system. They also raised concerns about NSFAS accommodation challenges, bank charges for NSFAS bank accounts, the 60-credit policy, and delayed NSFAS appeal decisions.

Crucial Role of Accreditation

Accrediting student accommodations is deemed crucial to ensure proper fund allocation and provide students with suitable living conditions, a perspective supported by the Committee. They seek an update on accreditation status, especially regarding the student accommodation backlog, and inquire about NSFAS’s plans to expedite accreditation processes.

Progress and Future Plans

Currently, the accommodation platform lists a total of 93,424 beds, with 58,444 beds already paid for, and 21,903 beds accredited. Furthermore, NSFAS reports ongoing progress in reaching agreements with four TVET Colleges participating in a test pilot program. Notably, at one institution, students have already applied for accredited accommodation through the platform. The plan is to fully pilot the program in TVET Colleges in 2024.

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