R10 billion NSFAS funding shortfall: Minister Nzimande must explain from where the money will come

Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.

The DA will write to the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education and training to request an urgent meeting with the Department of Higher Education and Training and Treasury to deliberate the feasibility of covering the R10.1 billion National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) shortfall.

The current NSFAS model is clearly not up to the task of funding the increasing numbers of students, with the shortfall increasing from R6.8 billion in 2021. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande must account to the committee on how the budgeted R43 billion will be spent to accommodate as many students as possible and how he plans to fund the R10 billion shortfall.

He must give definitive answers to the following questions:

  • How will the R10.1 billion NSFAS shortfall be funded?
  • How sustainable is the current funding model as investigated by the Ministerial Task Team?
  • What recommendations does the Ministerial Task Team report provide?

With a shrinking tax base and decreased economic growth, a sustainable plan for student funding must be enacted. Recent years have highlighted how late funding decisions have led to unrest at institutions of higher learning and utterances made by NSFAS board chairperson, Ernest Khoza, that should the shortfall not be covered no funding decision can be made, is concerning.

The extension of the NSFAS application deadline is creating unrealistic expectations for first time entering students, and could lead to similar unrest we’ve seen in the past.

The DA recommends a single application system that includes all avenues for higher education funding on a single platform, with both private and public sector funding included. This would alleviate some pressure from the public fiscus.