Students Left Homeless After NSFAS Applications Disappear

College students have been left homeless due to financial difficulties. This, they say is due to NSFAS being insufficient in their service and students then having many blanks when it comes to their funding situations.

Students at Mnambithi TVET College have been left homeless due to not being able to pay their rent. This comes as a result of NSFAS not processing their applications or paying their allowances to pay rent, according to students.

The blame is also being shifted to the college because their funding applications weren't looked at due to not being sent to NSFAS.  One student said, "We have not been paying rent for three months, some of us for longer than that. We submitted our applications for NSFAS and responses to these applications took longer than usual, and we thought it was because of the lockdown".

When asking NSFAS about their applications, they were then told that the financial aid scheme never received them.

Thirty students desperate for a roof to sleep under have now resorted to sleeping in a corridor of a radio station. They have been locked out from their accommodation spaces by their landlords because they can't pay rent while some have been paying using their own money since the beginning of the year.

Some students then were only able to pay half of their rent and then were later found to be kicked out.

Rent for these students were between R700 and R1000 and some owed between R1500 and R2000. When speaking to Daily News, a student said, "My grandmother would borrow money from a loan shark for me to pay part of the rent since January and that didn’t work out for her because she also has to buy groceries from the pension she receives. Our belongings have been locked in the cottages since Monday and appeals to our landlord fell on deaf ears. We are all victims in this situation. What’s worse is that the college doesn’t explain to us why our applications have not been submitted to NSFAS".

When looking at the situation from the view of the landlords, one has said, "I have been accepting any amount these students have been giving me but now that doesn’t help me. They begged me to give them their belongings but I gave them only the essentials and the rest are locked in their cottages until I get the outstanding amounts they owe".

On how the college has responded to this issue, the Deputy Principal of Academic Services, Beatrice Mpangase, said, "The college met affected students on September 1, and deliberated on the matter at hand. Unfortunately, the college has no control on the disbursements of NSFAS allowance to students; these are deposited directly from NSFAS to the student accounts.”

Students TVET Colleges have said that they have been left behind while others have continued with online learning and that the Department is ignoring the challenges they are facing. This while also battling institutions over accommodation issues.

In residences at Lovedale TVET College, students have said that the toilets, showers and stoves don't work and that the toilets aren't always cleaned. The kitchens are also not safe or in good hygiene. They have said that there is nothing to disinfect the surfaces and they can't trust it to cook in there, saying that management is reckless. 

Students have also been upset by the campus management which they say is poor and neglectful and that they have poor communication. Management is said to not take questions and if they do, they don't want to answer any. Students say they are failing them and they feel lied to.

The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Buti Manamela, has urged higher education institutions to ensure that student and worker challenges are addressed. 

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