South Africa 30.1.2014 06:00 am

Chaos on campuses

FILE PIC: The gates of the Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria campus were barred on 29 January 2013 as students were protesting against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Picture: Christine Vermooten

FILE PIC: The gates of the Tshwane University of Technology Pretoria campus were barred on 29 January 2013 as students were protesting against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Picture: Christine Vermooten

Questions are mounting about the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) budgets and beneficiary figures presented by the body which allude to an annual average funding of a far-fetched R20 million-plus per student.

This comes as scores of first year and returning students funded by the scheme, went on protest at various campuses including the University of Johannesburg (UJ) in Gauteng and the Durban University of Technology (DUT) in KwaZulu-Natal.

The students alleged the institutions refused to register some of them due to outstanding accounts that were meant to have been settled by the NSFAS.

The scheme’s 2013 annual report states that funding of R32 billion was allocated to a total of 1.4 million students between 1991 and 2012, which means about R22 000 was paid out on average per student.

However, the scheme recently said it had a R7.7 billion budget in 2012 and a R8.3 billion budget in 2013 with 383 114 and 382 686 students respectively.

This translates into an average funding of about R20 100 per

student in 2012 and R21 700 per student in 2013.

In a statement issued by the NSFAS on Monday, the scheme said it had already paid out R7.4 billion to tertiary institutions by January 2014 and that it was not aware of the registration problems.

On Tuesday, however, the scheme issued another statement saying R230 million has since been made available by the Department of Higher Education and Training for the affected students.

“NSFAS will now pay funds to universities to settle the outstanding fees of students,” the scheme said.

Higher education department spokesperson Kifilwe Makhanya, said Minister Blade Nzimande will respond to questions related to the recent student unrest today.

The new funds come as some students recover from rubber bullet wounds after being shot by security guards at DUT, while others prepare to face disciplinary action and criminal charges laid by UJ following this week’s protests.

South African Students Congress (Sasco) said the figures thrown around by the NSFAS did not make sense.

“They first spoke about R6.6 billion budget for 2013, then R8.3 billion and now it is R9 billion or so,” Sasco president Ntuthuko Makhombothi said.

“They also spoke about having overfunded some universities who had to return some cash which explains why students funded by the NSFAS cannot register this year,” he said.

 

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