When It Comes To Directly Managing Student Housing, Is Nsfas Prepared?
The National Financial Aid Scheme has promised students a year without delays as the start of the 2023 academic year draws near. This promise comes as more initiatives to enhance the funding model have been implemented.
After several engagements with various stakeholders and visits to some of the Nsfas-funded student accommodation facilities, the financial aid provider noted that a more thorough and hands-on approach was needed to improve student accommodation for Nsfas beneficiaries.
Nsfas CEO, Andile Nongogo, says the scheme spends billions of rands on accommodation year each, yet they had no say in costings and were not part of the accrediting process.
Therefore, the organization has opted to be fully involved in the process as of 2023 in order to manage costs and prevent vulnerable fraudulent occurrences.
However, during a parliamentary meeting held with various stakeholders to discuss Nsfas readiness for the new year, Universities South Africa (USAf) raised concerns about the capacity of Nsfas to manage student accommodation allocations directly.
USAf also expressed that there is a need for Nsfas to consider University accommodation and University-leased accommodation first before private accommodation to ensure that public infrastructure is appropriately utilised.
In response to stakeholders concerns, Nongogo said the scheme plans implement its new initiatives through the administration of the entire student accommodation approach using the proposed policies.
“The 2023 Eligibility Criteria allows Nsfas to centralise the accreditation of private student accommodation, its grading and determination of value and costs for the listed accommodation,” he said.
This will allow them to better their student accommodation model whilst at the same time increase the accommodation capacity for Nsfas funding beneficiaries to address the housing shortages that were recorded during the 2022 academic year.
“Organizing private accommodation providers, working with SETAs and training the small to medium providers on managing student accommodation and on applicable norms and standards.”
Nongogo explains that scheme has also developed an online Student Accommodation Portal, which will allow the accreditation of accommodation providers, grading of the planned lodging and allocation of accommodation to all students.
The portal will also allow students to log any queries or complaints related to their allocated accommodation, for example, maintenance requests and relocation requests will be accepted via the portal, and this procedure will apply to both privately and institutionally owned accommodations.