In an effort to avoid more student protests in 2016, government will make more than R4.5 billion available to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to provide short-term debt relief to students, the Presidency said on Friday.
According to a report compiled by a task team appointed by President Jacob Zuma to investigate funding at universities, the NSFAS’s shortfall was R4.5bn.
“The report recommends that R2.5bn of this amount must be made available from the fiscus, in the form of loans to provide short-term debt relief to 71 753 students who were funded inadequately or were unable to access financial aid over the 2013 to 2015 academic years,” Zuma said in a statement.
A further R2bn was required in the 2016/17 financial year to ensure that currently unfunded continuing students receive NSFAS support in the 2016 academic year.
In October, Zuma announced a zero percent fee increase in university tuition fees for 2016. The decision came after students across the country rallied behind a #FeesMustFall campaign. They had called for their student debt to be cleared, for no tuition fee increases, and for the African National Congress’s promise of free education to be realised in their lifetime.
While people had the right to protest in a democracy, students, their leaders, and other organisations should reject destruction of university property, Zuma said. News24