Thousands of tertiary education students across the country have been left without a place to sleep. This comes after the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) implemented the R45 000 accommodation cap.
Last year, more than 690 000 students relied on NSFAS to fund their education. NSFAS is a government funded financial aid scheme that provides financial assistance to disadvantaged students who wish to further their studies at TVET colleges or public universities. NSFAS bursaries cover tuition, registration and various allowances, including transport and accommodation.
However, at the beginning of the year, NSFAS introduced a series of policies to make funding more accessible to qualifying applicants, as well as avoid the price-fixing and collusion from university staff. One of these policies included the R45 000 accommodation cap. This has made it challenging for funded students to find adequate housing within the budget, leaving some students with no choice but to illegally sleep on campus floors.
As the accommodation crisis persists, NSFAS reveals that they have now stepped in to intervene.
For the past few weeks, discussions have been ongoing between NSFAS and the South African Union of Students (SAUS) as the bursary scheme attempts to mitigate these countrywide challenges.
NSFAS spokesperson, Slumezi Skosana, reveals that the organisation is in the process of finding alternative accommodation for students allegedly sleeping in public places.
The universities most affected by the accommodation cap have been identified and will be prioritised, Skosana states. These public universities include the University of Pretoria, Rhodes University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Stellenbosch University, Sol Plaatjie University and the University of the Witwatersrand.
Due to surging accommodation costs, Skosana notes that the scheme will have to take exceptional measures to prevent funded students from being left stranded.
NSFAS is engaging with the affected universities to receive credible information and fast-track the process.