In an attempt to find workable solutions, the bursary scheme met with various stakeholders such as students, student leadership, institutions, and accommodation providers. During the meeting, it was evident that a more a more detailed and direct approach, with the scheme as the driver, was required.
According to Nsfas CEO Andile Nongogo, Nsfas spends a significant amount of money on student accommodation and therefore it should have a major influence on how the funds are spent.
This is why the bursary scheme has decided that as of the 2023 academic year, it will take a more proactive role in securing student accommodation for Nsfas beneficiaries.
“Last year, we spent approximately 12 billion on student accommodation, yet we had no say in costings and we were not part of the process of accrediting accommodation. The decision was made for Nsfas to be fully involved in the process to manage costs and prevent susceptible fraudulent instances,” said Nongogo.
Nongogo explains that Nsfas plans to do this through the scheme’s administration of the entire student accommodation approach and increasing student accommodation capacity for Nsfas funding beneficiaries.
The scheme has already commenced with developing an online Student Accommodation Portal, which will allow the accreditation of accommodation providers, grading of the planned lodging and allocation of accommodation to all students
Additionally, students will also be able to use the portal to log any queries or complaints related to their allocated accommodation, such as maintenance requests and relocation requests, on the portal and this process will apply to both privately and institution-owned accommodation.
To ensure that the accommodation spaces are adequate and conducive for learning and studying, Nsfas will have a team visit the various locations to assess the state of accommodation registered on the portal for purposes of accreditation.
“The Nsfas process to accredit accommodation will still be in line with the Department of Higher Education and Training’s Minimum Norms and Standards.” says Nongogo.
Furthermore, Nongogo said that the scheme also seeks to play an active role in ensuring that the supply of student accommodation grows in terms of capacity.
Although the government and the department of higher education manage this function, Nongogo indicated that the severity of the scarcity requires joint efforts by all stakeholders, including the private sector, accommodation providers and institutions.