Student Debt Requires a National Solution - Universities SA
Wits university students continue to protest while on the other side of things, Wits has said that they do provide for financially needy students. South Africa is in such a large amount of student debt that universities are no longer able to solve this problem alone and requires the work of the nation to assist them with this problem.
Wits University students are protesting over the 8 000 students being financially excluded but the SRC failed to delay the reopening of the university.
Despite the attempt of Wits University to assist their financially needy students, the students of Wits are still not satisfied. The university put R10 million in place in order to help the students who require assistance for registration but, CEO of Universities South Africa (USAf), Ahmed Bawa, says it will never be enough.
South Africa is in R10 billion of student debt.
Due to shortfalls at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and a lack of funding for students that don't fit into the NSFAS household income threshold, the amount of student debt is too high for universities to solve on their own.
There has also been a decrease in donors for 2021 financial aid and the call for donations and donors to make resources available are not enough to solve the problem of student debt. It now requires a national solution, said Bawa.
We need to go back and find a systematic solution or the beginning of academic years will always be disrupted in this way.
Professor Bawa believes that the R10 million that Wits University students are receiving for registration and accommodation, is money that is meant to be used for new infrastructure and new resources for the students, and isn't what he referred to as "play toy" money.
The struggle to put a strategy in place to accommodate for missing middle students, who are too rich to fall under NSFAS and too poor to fund their own tertiary education, has been an ongoing problem according to Professor Bawa, and they are currently trying to come up with a solution.
The shortfall that NSFAS is experiencing only increases the stress related to lack of student funding, along with the increase of students that require funding due to the strain Covid-19 has put on South Africa's economy, universities and NSFAS donors are not enough to solve the current student debt and fund new students, a national solution needs to be put in place.
NSFAS provides fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working class South Africans through bursaries. NSFAS funding is available to TVET College students as well so what's the criteria for TVET students to be funded?
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