A large number of students in universities and colleges throughout the country say their fees have not been paid by NSFAS.
The National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) granted loans to many more students this year, but recipients at a number of higher education institutions are struggling to access the funds due to administrative delays.
Students at six technical and vocational education and training colleges (TVET) in Mpumalanga are boycotting classes and a nationwide protest has been initiated at other colleges and universities to protest against the NSFAS’ failure to pay.
A large number of students in universities and colleges throughout the country say their fees have not been paid and meal allowances are also outstanding.
“I have not received my money for meals and my accommodation has not been paid,” said a student from the University of Free State.
The third-year student, who asked not to be named, said her landlord threatened to evict her as she is behind on rent payments.
“I go to classes hungry every day because I have no money for meals. They always promise to do something, but nothing happens,” she said.
Students at Mpumalanga TVET colleges in Ehlanzeni district say they intend to continue boycotting lectures until the NSFAS funding problems are resolved. The colleges have a compliment of 11 000 students spread over six campuses.
The Democratic Alliance Students Organisation (Daso) Mpumalanga constituency leader, Ken Robertson, said the boycotting students on all six campuses had endured months of hardship because the promised NSFAS funding had not been forthcoming.
“Students from Mlumati, Mapulaneng, Barberton, Nelspruit, Mthimba and KaNyamazane campuses are supposed to receive their stipends in advance so their tuition, accommodation, food and transport to the institutions are paid. According to the students, in many cases three months have lapsed since they received stipends,” Robertson said.
“This means they run the risk of being removed from their accommodation near campuses, it means they cannot buy food and cannot be transported to the institutions to get the education the state has promised them,” he said. Robertson added that allegations the stipend systems are flawed were rife.
“The justification is that some students receive double stipends as there have been duplications in the funding systems. This has been brought to the attention of the central office by students dating back to March and nothing has been done.”