Individuals qualifying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) do not have to pay upfront registration fees at universities or colleges.
Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, made the announcement recently when he was briefing the media on the implications of matriculation results on the Post School Education and Training sector in South Africa.
“The fact that for the first time NSFAS is able to say you qualify, it means therefore, when you go to register when you’ve been accepted, you’ve got proof to say, ‘I don’t have to pay registration’.
“It is also a great improvement in the system because before, you would have a number of NSFAS qualifying students being asked to pay registration fees, that we have eliminated now [and] who ever does this is breaking the law,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said 430 000 applications have been approved for NSFAS funding.
NSFAS has received a record-breaking number of applications by the closing date of 30 November 2019, with more than 543 268 first-time applications (prior year 428 929), received from applicants across the country, with the majority of the applicants submitting applications online via the myNSFAS portal.
“Applicants include those who were in Matric in 2019, learners in Grade 10 – 11 and those intending to further studies at the TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges and out of school youth, returning/continuing students without NSFAS funding in prior years,” Nzimande said.
A total of 281 639 of all applications received so far are South African Social Security Agency's (SASSA) beneficiaries.
The Minister attributed the success rate in applications to an extensive outreach campaign, including partnerships with both local and provincial governments; and the private sector.
Quality of teaching and learning
Universities have been requested not to over-enrol in 2020 to ensure the appropriate infrastructure and human resources for the number of students in the system, the quality of teaching and learning and the sustainability of the university system.
Nzimande said the country’s 26 public universities will provide access to approximately 201 042 new entrants wishing to pursue their studies across all general, technical and professional fields, including Business and Management, Science, Engineering, Agriculture and Technology, Humanities, Social Sciences, the Arts and Education.
The Minister explained that all universities were required to consider their enrolments in terms of the fiscal realities and constraints, and to plan realistically, making sure that the enrolment numbers targeted, resulted in the optimum number of new students entering the system for the first time in 2020.
He added that the universities should be fully supported through available infrastructure and sufficient qualified lecturers and academics, and within the constraints of the funding available for bursaries for poor and working-class students.
“The enrolment plan provides details of the enrolment targets for all fields of study, and specifically for those scarce skills fields that support our country’s growth, such as Engineering Sciences, Life and Physical Sciences, Animal and Human Health Sciences, and Teacher Education,” Nzimande said.
He noted that while the overall number of spaces in the university system for 2020 is 201 041, the universities are expected to enrol a two percent more of this figure.
“It is also important to note that the audited data for 2018 shows that of the first-time intake, 21 percent of students enrolled for certificates, 24 percent for diplomas, and 55 percent for degrees.
“The certificates would mostly be foundation type higher certificates that students who received bachelors or diploma passes, but did not get the entry requirements for their programme of choice, could enter into,” the Minister said.
Central Applications Clearing House
Prospective students who have applied for spaces in university but have not been able to secure space are encouraged to use of the Central Applications Clearing House (CACH) system for assistance in finding space in the Post-School Education and Training system.
The CACH service was developed to assist learners who are eligible for higher education studies and have applied for space at a University but is not their first choice
after matric results have been released.
“The CACH went live on the 14 January 2020 and will continue to operate until the 28 February 2020,” Nzimande.
CACH can be accessed through the toll-free call centre 0800 356 635, or send an SMS with your name, ID and contact number to 42900 and they will be called back.