All set for beginning of higher education registrations: Nzimande

The higher education minister says Nsfas received more than a million applications for funding, and this figure is set to rise

23 January 2024 - 18:37
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Higher education, science and innovation minister Blade Nzimande.
Higher education, science and innovation minister Blade Nzimande.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Business Day

The department of higher education and training has activated an “operations room” to ensure timely reporting and discussion of challenges experienced during the registration period for students in higher education institutions.

“We have developed a monitoring tool to assess registrations, readiness for teaching and learning, student academic support, management and stakeholder relations, plans for funding new and returning students and the status of institutional finances,” said higher education, science and innovation minister Blade Nzimande on Tuesday.

He said classes commenced at Technical Vocational Education and Training (Tvet) colleges on January 15 and the enrolment head count was 482,244 students in all programmes.

“This is still far less than where we want to go,” Nzimande said.

He said while the budget for Tvet colleges increased by 3% to 4%, this was a decline in real terms because of increases in course programme costs and an increase in compensation of employees.

“The budget allocated to colleges is declining at a time when we need to be hugely expanding our college sector.”

He said to prepare universities for the beginning of the academic year to ensure stronger accountability, the department established a steering committee consisting of representatives from his department, the Central Application Service, universities and student leaders.

Nzimande said universities confirmed they completed the 2023 academic year and registration of returning students started January 2 and will end in the middle of February. First-time students started registering on January 15.

“Combined, all universities received 270,000 applications for scarce skills, and 67,929 of these first-time enrolments will be in scarce skills.”

These enrolments are in the engineering field (18,541), life and physical science (16,450), animal science (614), veterinary science (205), human health (9,455) and teacher education (22,698).

He said most universities indicated they will not accept late applications, except for the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Durban University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Rhodes University, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Fort Hare, University of Zululand and Walter Sisulu University.

Nzimande urged the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to speedily resolve all outstanding funding cases affecting students from last year.

“While this is being resolved, I urge institutions not to deny Nsfas-funded students, with outstanding payments, to register for the current cycle. Submission of accurate registration information is important to circumvent delays in the payment processes.”

He said Nsfas had received a million applications up to January 21.

“Nsfas has already provisionally funded 657,703 applicants, mainly Sassa recipients. Nsfas anticipates additional applications before the close of the 2024 application cycle which closes on January 31.”

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