13 March 2019

South Africa: NSFAS Dealing With Students' Accommodation

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it is concerned and alarmed that students from Ehlanzeni Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College have been compelled to find accommodation in public libraries and police stations.

This follows a report that students from Mapulaneng campus were kicked out of their private residential areas by landlords who demanded their rent.

The students were forced to sleep on the floor at the campus's administration block and the library.

NSFAS Administrator Dr Randall Carolissen said the scheme made an upfront allowance to institutions in the first disbursement run in February 2019.

"This amount was sent to the colleges which had the capacity to disburse allowances to students. In some cases colleges requested NSFAS to take over the payments of allowances via the NSFAS wallet as they were struggling to pay all the students," Carolissen explained.

Carolissen said the upfront payment of R1 950 per student was intended to be applied for two months transport and personal care, and NSFAS is currently processing payments for top up allowance for the two months for private accommodation students.

However, Carolissen noted that, in order for NSFAS to make accommodation payment accurate, registration declarations were required from colleges.

He said that on 12 March 2019, Ehlanzeni forwarded an updated declaration however, information for students from two campuses, Mapulaneng and Barberton were incomplete.

"As things stand now 137 students from Mapulaneng have received allowances as at Tuesday, 12 March 2019. NSFAS has engaged Student Representative Council (SRC) and campus management in the current accommodation crisis, and will provide further support to resolve this situation before the end of this week," Carolissen said.

Carolissen also noted that the administrator had previously engaged private accommodation service providers to explain the NSFAS allowance structure and the payment schedule, [and] an agreement was reached that NSFAS funded students will not be required to pay deposit on accommodation.

"Furthermore, we emphasise the need for all private accommodation service providers to obtain institutional accreditation to ensure that the welfare of students remains a priority," Carolissen said.

He added that on Wednesday, campus management was engaging with landlords to resolve the matter.

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