20 January 2016

South Africa: No Upfront Registration Payment for Qualifying Students

Photo: Wits SRC/Twitter
Students at Wits University protest a fee hike (file photo).

Johannesburg — All students who have been offered a placement at a university and who qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) can register without having to make an upfront payment, it has been announced.

Higher Education and Training Minister, Blade Nzimande, said this when he briefed media on Wednesday following a meeting with the vice chancellors of 26 public universities.

The meeting, which was also attended by senior representatives from NSFAS and representatives from the Council on Higher Education, was aimed at discussing preparations for the new academic year.

Minister Nzimande reported that during the meeting it was noted that substantial progress is being made with regards to improving the function of NSFAS.

"Each institution has payment plans in place for all category students. The institutions have also undertaken to address applicants on an individual basis and attempt to offer payment plans," Minister Nzimande said.

On the "missing middle" group of students, the Minister said processes were in place towards a new model of supporting this group which will be piloted next year.

He reiterated that there was a need to think deeply about opportunities for reinventing and innovation in higher education in the country.

The vice chancellors welcomed the R6.9 billion additional funding for universities and expressed appreciation for the support government has been giving the higher education sector.

University of the Witwatersrand, Professor Adam Habib, warned that while protests are acceptable, they cannot step beyond boundaries.

Civil societies were also called to play a role in stabilising the situation at the higher institutions.

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