Thousand of students pursuing their Postgraduate degree in the country are financially struggling. With NSFAS not funding second qualifications, these students have no answers to how they would fund their studies.
On their website, NSFAS says that from 2021 onwards, postgrad students will no longer be able to receive funding from NSFAS.
However, some students have only found out recently that there courses won't be funded. Other students have said that they were told they would be funded but then it turned out they weren't. This has of course brought shock to all these students.
Previously, NSFAS funded the Postgraduate Certificate of Education (PGCE) and the Postgraduate Diploma of Accounting (PGDA).
One student said:
We received no communication from NSFAS whatsoever. I read a circular that they released. They spoke about legacy degrees. It just didn't make sense to me. How can the Department of Higher Education choose to defund education programmes?
"Most of us are from the very disadvantaged backgrounds and now we are affected because we are trying to study but now we don't know how we're going to pay R70 000. But on the other hand, you are pushing because you want to make your parents proud," said another student.
Students have now gone as far as setting up a petition calling for NSFAS to fund PGCE students for 2021 citing, "We the PGCE students of 2021 are the future teachers and leaders of this country, South Africa.".
We hereby implore NSFAS and government to not leave us out of the funding round for studies as teachers play a key role in the future of this country. Thousands of 2021 PGCE students now without NSFAS money are left out in the dark with nothing, while we are supposed to be a beacon of hope to future generations as teachers.
So far, almost 4000 students have signed the petition with a PGCE student saying, "my biggest hope at this point is that the University, like our neighbour University, the University of Cape Town (UCT), to at least toss funds for PGCE students here".
Students were protesting outside the University of the Western Cape (UWC) for this cause with the University saying they would provide assistance where they can.
UCT has said that they can't fund students doing their first postgrad qualification but that they are trying to source sponsors.
80 PGCE Stellenbosch University students are affected with them saying that because the announcement was made after the academic year started, it then wasn't possible to direct these students to other funding sources.