The Department of Higher Education of Higher Education has opted to waive the 80% attendance policy requirement for payment of allowances to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college students.
The implementation of the 80% attendance policy requirement in the TVET college sector which served as a precursor to payment of allowances to NSFAS students was waived due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning activities.
The Ministry initially took the decision in July 2021 after President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a nationwide lockdown as a response to the Covid-19 outbreak. At the time, Minister Nzimande stated that he anticipated the ongoing adoption of social distancing requirements to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus meant that college operations would still be impacted by the pandemic.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has said that, in retrospect, all qualifying students were funded throughout the 2020 academic year without any disruptions.
Furthermore, in May 2020, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande established a Ministerial Committee of Inquiry to explore the underlying causes of problems encountered during the roll-out of the "student-centered" model at NSFAS and the implementation of the new bursary program beginning in 2018.
The "student-centered" model allowed Matriculant or equivalent pupils that were first-time entrants to Higher Education Institutions (HEI), as well as returning students who had been previously financially assisted by NSFAS to apply directly to NSFAS, as opposed to applying via the HEI they were accepted to or registered at.
In a report titled “Annual Performance Plan,” the Department of Higher Education further stated that the ministerial committee submitted its final report to the DHET, which was then presented to Cabinet.
The goal was to keep any changes to the scheme's overall administration to a minimum. Unfortunately, due to uncertainties surrounding the NSFAS allocation, the release of the Guidelines was postponed.
Due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on teaching and learning activities, the execution of the 80% attendance policy requirement in the TVET college sector was suspended, which functioned as a prerequisite for payment of allowances to NSFAS students.