Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande says the appointment of the new National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) administrator has resulted in a more successful registration process in early 2019.
“Since the appointment of the new administrator, there has been significant improvements in the operations at NSFAS, with improved working relationships between NSFAS and institutions,” Nzimande said.
Serious deficiencies in the systems, business processes and capacity of NSFAS led to the scheme being placed under Administration in August 2018.
Tabling the Department of Higher Education and Training’s R73 124 073 Budget Vote on Friday, Nzimande said the focus is to ensure the immediate short-term stability of NSFAS and put in place effective policies and systems to ensure that funding gets to the qualifying students on time, and that they are effectively supported to succeed in their studies.
“A full assessment and investigation into the root causes of the systems, process, policy and capacity problems at NSFAS will be undertaken by a specialist Ministerial team to be appointed over the next few months. In addition, we will be working closely with NSFAS to ensure a smooth transition period between the administrator and new management and governance teams of NSFAS,” Nzimande said.
Investment in infrastructure
Over the period 2018/19 to 2020/21, government has strengthened its investment in infrastructure projects across its 26 universities by investing a total of R11.653 billion.
While all universities benefit from this investment, the Minister said there is a focus on historically disadvantaged institutions.
“The Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college sector has made strides with nine new campus sites under construction and scheduled for completion in 2020. They include Sterkspruit, Aliwal North, Graaff Reneit, Ngungqushe, Umzimkhulu, Greytown, Msinga, Nongoma and Kwagqikasi.
“Contracts will be awarded for a further four new campus sites in 2019/20. The sites include Balfour, Giyani, Nkandla B and Vryheid. Construction will commence with a new campus site for Mitchells Plain in 2020,” the Minister reported.
In addition, a College Infrastructure Efficiency Grant for maintenance with over R1 billion per year from 2018/19 to 2021/2022 is being rolled-out based on the National Immovable Maintenance Management Standard in all 50 TVET colleges.
“An infrastructure priority for our sixth administration includes the development of decent, affordable student housing for universities and TVET colleges. The Student Housing Infrastructure Programme (SHIP) has been developed to accelerate the provision of 300 000 beds over 10 years.
“The first three universities under this programme are at various stages in the development of 5 836 beds, with a further six projects of 13 977 beds undergoing assessment through the Budget Facility for Infrastructure (BFI) for possible launching in the coming year.
“This has been made possible through a partnership between the Department of Higher Education, Science and Technology, the Infrastructure Investment Programme of South Africa (IIPSA), the Development Bank of South Africa and National Treasury,” Nzimande said.