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Blade Nzimande says NSFAS has more than doubled student funding between 2018-2021

29 October 2021 - 08:00
Higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande. File photo.
Higher education, science and technology minister Blade Nzimande. File photo.
Image: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Funding set aside for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has more than doubled between 2018 and 2021 and has widened its reach to offer financial support for prospective TVET and university students.

Funding increased from R20bn in 2018 to R42bn in 2021, said higher education minister Blade Nzimande during a media briefing on Thursday.

The minister said this demonstrates government's seriousness about providing free higher education to those who need it most. Government schemes including Funza Lushaka have played a significant role in providing assistance for students.

“The total number of university students funded, including from other government departments, increased by 45.4% from 346,966 students funded in 2018 to 504,366 students funded in 2020,” said the minister. 

Ninety-two of the beneficiaries were African, 4.2% Coloured, 0.7% Indian and 0.9% were white.

Nzimande said the scheme prioritised female students, who are the majority of all students funded by NSFAS.

“In 2018, this was 61.4%. This is similar to the overall representation of female undergraduate students in the public university sector. This is a huge achievement by this government in terms of affirming women in post-school education and training,” he said.

The number of female students who received funding in 2020 increased by 30.6%, from 360,344 in 2018 to 470,969 funded in 2020. NSFAS also funds students with disabilities, in universities and Technical Vocational Education & Training (TVET) colleges.

However, Nzimande said he was concerned by the decline in financial assistance offered to students living with disabilities. Just less than 2,000 students with disabilities received funding from NSFAS in 2019 and only 1,421 were funded in 2020.

The minister said job losses resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic had contributed to increased demand for NSFAS funding.

Applications for the 2022 academic year officially open on November 2.