The South African Union of Students (SAUS) has been having discussions with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme about their defunding of postgraduate qualifications such as the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE).
SAUS held it's 8th National elective conference from the 25 to 29th under the theme 'Dismantling all barriers besetting university entry and placing SAUS at the centre of creating a sustainable post-school education and training sector'.
"They deliberated on very critical matters which affect students currently, be it PGCE, which is affecting all university students because they had decided to defund PGCE without notifying universities prior, but the board together with the executive of NSFAS have committed to ensuring that they check into the issue of PGCE," Secretary-General of SAUS, Lukhanyo Daweti,Daweti tells Careers Portal.
The Chairman of the board and the CEO of NSFAS and the management in the CEO's office were part of the delegation that attended the conference and engaged SAUS on a variety of issues regarding the state of NSFAS.
The SAUS secretary went on to say that part of the issue around the delays affecting students who are eligible for funding by NSFAS is that NSFAS is yet to receive registration templates from some of the universities in the country.
"Currently, NSFAS has not received registration templates from about nine institutions, now we are in June already students are writing examinations and others are about to finish. Not to every university has not released registration templates, but for students to receive their allowances that document which is from the university must be there," he tells Careers Portal.
NSFAS is not in the biggest crisis as all of us see it to be, but the issue that they are not seeing as the public is that for NSFAS to work efficiently and effectively there must be a collaboration between NSFAS and Universities because they fund student through universities.
"The reality is that NSFAS is not where we want it to be yet but I can assure you that the board that has been appointed at NSFAS is committed to shape, rebuild and perhaps reposition NSFAS but be we want it to be as the leadership of the Union," he added
Daweti continued to say that although the Higher Education sector has been making facing challenges due to Covid, it still has a long way to go in it's response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
We are dealing with unprecedented times and the pandemic has brought more challenges to the Higher Education sector. One of the main issues has been the delay of budget allocations for universities in the country.
He says that having the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, address them at the conference reassured them that the department is doing as much as it can to maintain stability within the sector.
He has ensured us that as much we are being faced by the current challenges brought by Covid-19, the department is doing everything in it's power to ensure that universities remain operational and most importantly, there are no retrenchments academic program can continue peacefully.
Dewati also says one of the key things that are of immediate importance in the sector is for the department of higher education to adopt an aggressive strategy that will deal with blended learning going forward.
"Clearly, Covid19 has given us no options but has clearly shown that the only future that we have as a country is going to be blended learning which is online in combination with traditional learning.
So there must be a clear strategic framework to deal with that so all universities are aligned with and that we don't find ourselves in a situation where we are dealing with unfavourable without knowing what do.