In his first media briefing for the year of 2023, Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, issued a report on governmental plans for the higher education sector for the current academic year.
Minister Nzimande went into great detail about NSFAS applications and plans for funding during the 2023 academic year. This also included the announcement of new academic standards for NSFAS-funded students.
Students may recall that the former rules for funding and continued funding were as follows:
- First-time applicants would qualify for NSFAS funding if their combined household income was below R350 000, and the student was planning towards studying a first certificate or undergraduate qualification at a registered public University or TVET college. This rule still remains as such.
- In the case of continued funding for university-goers, students were expected to maintain a 50% pass rate in order for their funding to be renewed for the duration of their studies.
- Students were also given a bit of leeway with the N+1 rule. This rule allowed for them to be funded for the full minimum duration that their qualification is supposed to take, plus an additional year in the case that a student should repeat a year or is required to complete an additional year.
The academic requirement updates include the following:
- First-time entering students are expected to achieve a course credit pass rate of 50%.
- Continued funding will be granted to university students who now maintain a 55% course credit pass rate, instead of the previous 50%.
- Returning university students will need to meet the ongoing academic obligations for funding, which are set to be readjusted to have 60% as the course credit pass rate over time.
- The N+ rule for distance-learning university students is also set to be reviewed as of 2024.
As far as is known at this time, no other changes have been made to the criteria, but as stated above, students should still be aware of potential adjustments over time.
Students who still wish to apply for NSFAS funding for the year of 2023 and deem have met the eligibility criteria, have until the 31st of January to submit their application.