The Department of Higher Education and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme has officially confirmed that allowances will be increased. This comes after student outcries for an increase and interventions by the South African Union of Students.
After meetings with the South African Union of Students (SAUS) and a proposal being put forward, the Department of Higher Education made the decision to increase allowances distributed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas). This is a major step in the right direction.
Students funded by the Nsfas bursary will now receive a 10% increase in their living allowances with it now amounting to R16 500 per year, with it previously coming to R15 750.
In a statement released by the department, it read:
This is a significant development given the reality that in the past three years, no increment was made on student allowances. This is an effort not only to acknowledge the impact of inflation on students’ livelihood, but a contribution to ease the economic disadvantages suffered by students.
Following engagements between Nsfas and SAUS, Nsfas realised that amendments need to be made to meet the needs of students which then lead to a proposal being presented to the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande and a look at budget.
The scheme will also back-date the increase to Nsfas allowances to the beginning of the 2023 academic year. This means that Nsfas will distribute the difference between the new and old amount for February.
Nsfas will be funding around 1 million students in the 2023 academic year. These students will have a cap of R45 000 per year on their accommodation allowances, which has caused some uproar.
Many students have said that this is not enough to pay their rent every month. Even with the increase in living allowances, the Nsfas cap remains.
Spokesperson for Nsfas, Slumezi Skosana, said:
There hasn’t been any change and there isn’t going to be a change anytime soon. We’ve been in discussions with all stakeholders to try and see how the situation can be mitigated.
There has been a alight rise in accommodation allowances for university-administered and university-catered accommodation, with it being R61 500.
The statement said that the final implementation dates of the new amendments will be communicated with institutions during the week of 20 March 2023.