25 March 2019

South Africa: Committee Welcomes Decision to Settle NSFAS Students' Debt

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has welcomed the announcement by Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor of availing close to a billion rands for the purposes of settling the historic debt owed by students to universities.

Over the weekend, the Minister announced that Government has made available an additional amount of R967 million to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), for the purposes of settling the historic student debt. This is over and above the introduction of a fee-free policy in 2018.

Committee Chairperson Connie September said the commitment to respond to the deadline as promised to Parliament to address the grievances raised by the students and institutions of Higher Education and Training is welcomed.

"The response by the Minister is a true testimony that round table engagement must remain the preferred option by students to resolve matters as opposed to destroying the infrastructure," September said.

September said the committee is also satisfied with the commitment to deal with poverty alleviation especially for the poorest of the poor in the country.

"The need of placing a skills revolution in the country must be uppermost by government. The decision by the Minister and the Department must take higher education sector closer to the sequencing decisions of the National Development Plan," she said.

She said further efforts are needed to increase effectiveness, success rate and to improve the throughput rate of students at all the institutions of higher learning.

"Students must make a massive contribution towards their own capabilities in order to ensure that they improve their chances and choices in the labour market," September said.

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