NOTICE TO STUDENTS
Kindly be informed that allowances that were supposed to be paid on Tuesday 11 May 2021 were not paid due to challenges and technical glitches at the bank. The Finance Department and the Bank are working tirelessly to resolve the situation and pay as soon as possible.
11 May 2021
Kindly be advised of the following EMC Resolutions taken at its meeting held on Friday, 26 March 2021:
Thank you for your cooperation.
DATE: 14 March 2021
TO: All media
ATTENTION: News Editors/ Reporters
RESPONSE BY THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION, DR BLADE NZIMANDE ON THE SOUTH AFRICAN UNION OF STUDENTS LETTER OF DEMANDS
The South African Union of Students (SAUS) sent a letter to Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Dr Blade Nzimande on 10 March 2021. The following is the Minister’s response to the SAUS demands:
Financial clearance and the clearance of historical debts for all students to ensure smooth registration.
The University of Western Cape set a good example in this regard. The Department of Higher Education and Training is not in a financial position to be able to support institutions to clear all student debt of fee-paying students. We are aware that there are many students whose families struggle to keep up with fee payments, and indeed many families who have also been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the difficult fiscal situation, all government departments, including the Department of Higher Education and Training have been subject to budget reductions in 2020 and 2021. I am aware that many institutions are doing what they can to assist students in need, and to allow them to make payment arrangements to be able to register, where this is possible. However, institutions also have to remain financially sustainable in order to continue to operate effectively, and financial decisions are made at the level of university councils. The historic debt of NSFAS-qualifying students is being addressed through a process between NSFAS and institutions. NSFAS-qualifying students with historic debt are able to register when they sign an Acknowledgement of Debt (AOD) form, while the process is underway.
Justice for the family of a person who was killed by police on the 10th of March 2021 at WITS University. We demand an end to police brutality targeting protesting students and we are against victimization of students and student leadership.
I am deeply distressed by the death of Mr Mthokozisi Ntumba in Braamfontein on 10 March. The issues relating to the police investigation into the matter will be dealt with by the Minister of Police.
Immediate provision of post-graduate funding. We are advocating for advanced diploma qualifications to be included in the funding framework.
Postgraduate funding is an issue that does require attention, as there is limited funding available from the National Research Foundation. However, in 2021, the new NRF policy does consider funding of students who were NSFAS recipients. This is an important matter that needs to be addressed in the policy review process that will be undertaken in 2021 by the Department of Higher Education and Training, as outlined in my media statement on 11 March 2021.
4) Allocation of NSFAS funding for first time entering students (FTENs) or new students. All first years must be unblocked for registration whilst government is still resolving the funding matters.
This matter has been addressed, and we have committed that first-time entering students will be able to register following the commitment to reprioritize funding from the Department of Higher Education and Training to address the NSFAS shortfall for 2021.
5) Laptops must be provided to students as the academic year starts. The agreement last year was that students will receive laptops before the start of the 2021 academic year.
This process is being managed by NSFAS. As reported by the Executive Officer, NSFAS has placed a first order for laptops, and these will be made available to students, in line with the agreed processes, as soon as they are available. NSFAS has indicated that the first deliveries will be made in April 2021.
6) We demand all student allowances to be provided in March because the academic year starts in March. Landlords are already harassing students for payment.
These processes are being managed by individual universities in line with their registration dates. However, NSFAS funding to students is only released once students are registered and confirmed for funding. It is also important to note that NSFAS will receive its first tranche from the fiscus on 1 April 2021 in line with National Treasury’s processes.
7) Increase in students enrolment quotas to allow admission of matriculants. This includes the 20 000 students from UNISA.
The Department of Higher Education and Training works together with institutions to agree on an enrolment plan, which is outlined in a Ministerial Statement. The current enrolment plan covers the period 2020 to 2025. It is critical that all institutions adhere as closely as possible to their enrolment plans, as they guide both the funding of the system, as well as ensure that
institutions have the capacity to support quality education for their students. Should the system expand beyond the agreed enrolments it will be unable to provide effective teaching and learning. The matter relating to UNISA’s decision to reduce its enrolments based on over enrolments in 2020 is currently in the courts.
8) Free registration for all students during the 2021 academic year. We reject the imposition of minimum initial payment (MIP).
As with payment plans for students who have fee debt, registration and minimum initial payments are determined at institutional level, in line with council-determined financial policies. NSFAS-qualifying students are not expected to make upfront payments. 9) Students must be provided with their academic records and certificates, even those who owe the universities.
All institutions have confirmed to the Department that they have mechanisms in place to ensure that students with debt are able to receive academic records and certificates of completion for the purposes of further study and accessing employment opportunities. The Department works directly with institutions where necessary to facilitate queries on these matters. I agree that no student should be prevented from accessing employment or other opportunities because they have outstanding fees.
10) We demand zero percent fee increase for the 2021 academic year. Student leaders were not consulted when this decision was taken.
Fee consultations take place at institutional level. In addition, student leaders are represented on university councils, where budgeting and fee decisions are taken. For the 2021 academic year, the Department and universities have reached another fee compact to ensure fee increases are kept at affordable levels and to ensure the sustainability of universities. All institutions rely on student fees for their core operating income and additional funding is not available from government to support a zero percent fee increase. Institutions have to remain financially sustainable in order to meet their operational commitments and their academic responsibilities.
11) We are demanding free quality education for the poor and the missing middle. The increase of VAT from 14% to 15% is meant to cover for free education.
I acknowledge that the demand for student funding is significant. Government has committed to providing fully subsidized support to students from poor and working class backgrounds and has been doing so since 2018 through the NSFAS. As already indicated, the Department of Higher Education and Training will be doing urgent work to review the current funding policy of government, to examine its overall affordability and sustainability. This will also entail examining the funding requirements to support missing middle and postgraduate students.
12) We demand suspension of academic exclusion for the 2021 academic year because of the impact of COVID-19.
Decisions about academic matters are the domain of individual universities, within their relevant academic policies. I recognize that 2020 was a difficult year for many students as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown and the move to emergency remote multi-modal teaching and learning. However, all institutions put in place plans and mechanisms to support students and to provide opportunities for catch-up and support/completion programmes.
13) SAUS & SRC members are demanding the 100% return of all students to campuses under level 1 of the lockdown. Students who are from homes without connectivity are already excluded from online registration.
I support that students who have challenges with connectivity should be able to return to campuses where they are able to access the relevant connectivity and support from institutions. However, individual institutions must manage these processes in line with their own resources and strategies and the ability to provide a safe environment for the return of students and staff in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. I will be releasing directions to support and guide institutions in managing the return of students and the start of the 2021 academic year.
14) We demand the extension of the registration period to the 30th of April 2021 considering the difficulties that students and institutions are facing.
After discussion with Universities South Africa, it was agreed that the registration period would be extended for two weeks, to ensure that all first-time entering students, in particular those who qualify for NSFAS, are able to register.
15) We demand NSFAS appeals to be opened and finalized within the next two weeks. Currently students who intend to appeal are excluded from registration.
I am informed by NSFAS that it is working hard to finalise appeals so that students are not prevented from registering in time to start the 2021 academic year. I urge student structures to continue engaging with the management teams of all our public universities, utilising the communication structures that are already in place for this engagement. Many of the matters that you have raised with me require that students and university management work together at institutional level. Given the above explanations, many of the issues that have been raised will require careful consideration and planning at the national level and will be addressed through the work that the Department of Higher Education and Training will be doing in collaboration with other government departments, including National Treasury, the Department of Science and Innovation and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
DST Building (53), CSIR Campus
Meiring Naude Road
Enquiries: Ishmael Mnisi 0660378859
STATEMENT ON HIS MAJESTY KING GOODWILL ZWELITHINI KA BHEKUZULU
BY PRINCE MANGOSUTHU BUTHELEZI MP INKOSI OF THE BUTHELEZI CLAN AND TRADITIONAL PRIME MINISTER TO THE ZULU MONARCH AND NATION
It is with the utmost grief that I inform the nation of the passing of His Majesty King Goodwill Zwelithini ka Bhekuzulu, King of the Zulu Nation.
Tragically, while still in hospital, His Majesty’s health took a turn for the worse and he subsequently passed away in the early hours of this morning.
On behalf of the Royal Family, we thank the nation for your continued prayers and support in this most difficult time.
May His Majesty our King rest in peace.
MEDIA STATEMENT BY THE MINISTER OF HIGHER EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND INNOVATION ON 2021 FUNDING DECISIONS FOR PROSPECTIVE STUDENTS AND THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE 2021 ACADEMIC YEAR
11 March 2021
Deputy Minister Bhuti Manamela;
Senior Management of the DHET;
NSFAS CEO, Andile Nongogo;
SAUS and SATVETSA leadership;
TVET College Governors Council
Leadership from Unions;
Members of the media;
Ladies and gentlemen;
To all prospective students, parents and South Africans at large, Good Morning.
Let me take this opportunity to thank my cabinet colleagues and the President of our Country, President Ramaphosa, for providing funding support, under trying circumstances, to keep the commitment that we have made as government during Minister Tito Mboweni’s Budget vote speech on the 24th February 2021, “that Government remains committed to ensuring that deserving students are supported through higher education”.
I therefore have called this media briefing following Cabinet’s deliberations on this matter.
Before we do that I want to briefly reflect on the tragic incident that took place yesterday in Braamfontein, where a man lost his life in the midst of a public protest in which the law enforcement agencies became involved.
Our sincere condolences go to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased. I have directed that the Wits University Council, the Wits Management and requested the relevant Law enforcement authorities agencies to provide us with an explanation on what caused this tragedy, and to take whatever steps to ensure justice is done and appropriate responsibility is accorded.
Cabinet met yesterday and discussed the matter of the funding shortfall at NSFAS, which I reported on earlier this week. The particular issue under discussion was the shortfall in funding for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for 2021 which has delayed NSFAS in being able to communicate funding decisions to students and institutions for first-time entering students in public universities.
Cabinet agreed that funding should be reprioritised from the budget of the Department of Higher Education and Training in order to ensure that all deserving NSFAS-qualifying students are able to receive funding support for the 2021 academic year.
Further reprioritisation can only be considered as part of the Medium Term Budget process of government, which takes place later this year.
This decision has been taken in the context of funding cuts and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Following this decision, NSFAS will be able to release funding decisions, and the registration process at public universities can continue as planned.
No NSFAS-qualifying students have been affected by these delays, as universities had agreed to extend the registration period to ensure that students without funding decisions would not be prevented from accessing a place that they qualify for.
Cabinet also agreed that a comprehensive review of the student funding policy of government is urgently required and has instructed that the Department of Higher Education and Training, immediately commence with this work and report back to Cabinet.
The purpose of this process will be to look carefully at the funding requirements to support students in financial need in the post-school education and training system, to model the holistic requirements of students, including those from poor and working class backgrounds as well as the missing middle.
Government is very concerned about the issue of growing student debt in the system, as are the universities. This is an issue that will also be considered as part of the policy review.
Some of the demands that are being received by government and universities relate to the debt of students who may not be funded by NSFAS but who are struggling to register because they have not been able to pay debts, and but are doing well academically. In some instances, universities have made arrangements with such students to sign acknowledgement of debt agreements. In this regard, I will be engaging with the university leadership teams to explore ways in which we can try to ensure that final year students who are on track to graduate and are performing well are able to register for their final year through such acknowledgment of debt arrangements.
What should be clear from the above is that Government is firmly committed to implement the policy of providing fee free (fully subsidised) higher education support to students from working and poor backgrounds, whilst also putting a sustainable mechanism in place to support students from the so-called ‘missing middle’ income bracket.
I will now provide further detail about NSFAS funding for 2021 as well as the start of the 2021 academic year.
NSFAS will now be able to release funds for new students qualifying for NSFAS bursary support. As I already indicated, continuing students who meet the qualifying criteria have already been allowed to register. This process is extremely urgent as some universities are already starting their academic programmes, and others will be commencing during March and April.
I appeal to institutions and to NSFAS to ensure that this process is completed as smoothly as possible.
I would also like to appeal for calm at our institutions of higher learning. Where there are matters of dispute and grievances, structures are in place for SRCs and institutional management to engage on, and I urge that student leaders and institutional leaders make use of these mechanisms to resolve problems amicably. We cannot afford at this time to endure disruption to the 2021 academic year, which is already starting later than usual due to the extended 2020 academic year and the delayed NSC examinations.
The 2020 academic year was a difficult year for everyone. Students and staff at our public institutions had to adjust to remote forms of teaching and learning and institutions had to manage the academic year during different phases of the national lockdown.
I commend the institutional management teams and staff of our institutions for their hard work during the 2020 academic year. I also wish to extend my special congratulations to the students of our institutions who continued with their academic programmes despite the challenges of COVID-19 and the lockdown. This clearly demonstrates the character and commitment of the class of 2020.
I also acknowledge that yesterday I received communication from the South African Union of Students (SAUS), which represents all public university SRCs, outlining a number of demands of students. I will respond to this communication as soon as I am able to do so.
Now that the issue of the funding shortfall has been addressed, we will be able to finalise the funding NSFAS Bursary Guidelines for university students. These will be finalised within the next week and released to institutions as soon as possible. It should be noted that the changes are being kept to a minimum in order not to affect the administration of the DHET Bursary Scheme in public institutions. The Guidelines for funding of students in public TVET colleges were released late last year.
However, it is important that I clarify the core parameters of NSFAS funding policy for 2021. NSFAS funding is provided primarily for the funding of students completing a first undergraduate qualification. In the past, however, NSFAS has provided funding for some limited second qualifications in key areas.
Students who are already funded on these programmes will be able to continue as long as they meet the academic criteria. However, there will be no funding available for new entrants on second or postgraduate qualifications, as the latter is the responsibility of the National Research Foundation.
The only exception is that students who have completed Higher Certificates and gain access to a degree or diploma programme are able to receive funding, if they meet the academic and financial criteria.
The Department will continue to work with institutions and other funding agencies to expand the funding opportunities for students who do not qualify for NSFAS in particular in scarce skills areas. In this regard, we will also engage further with SETAs where support may be available for programmes in particular areas and indeed also to address areas of postgraduate funding where possible.
The following is applicable in relation to the DHET bursary scheme for 2021. Tuition fee and accommodation fee costs are provided for in line with the Guidelines for the Department of Higher Education and Training bursary scheme for 2021, subject to the agreed CPI-linked sector-wide increases of 4.7% (tuition) and 6.7% (accommodation). Institutions must note that no funding can be provided by NSFAS in excess of these increases and neither can such costs be passed onto NSFAS bursary recipients. I wish to thank the university councils and managements for their understanding in adhering to these conditions.
I must also urge that all our universities stick to the agreed enrolment plans in line with the Ministerial Statement on Enrolment Planning (2020-2025). I will provide further detail on the numbers below.
All NSFAS-qualifying university students on the DHET grant scheme (i.e. those students who were registered prior to 2018) will be subject to the funding cap of R98 700.
In respect of student allowances for students on the DHET bursary scheme the following is applicable:
All students receive the learning material allowance, which remains at R5200 for the 2021 academic year. This allowance can be utilised by students to purchase electronic devices to support their studies, in line with the applicable university policies and schemes, where these are in place. Some institutions will make use of the NSFAS process for the provision of laptops to students.
The living allowance which is provided to full-time students in contact study remains at R15 000 for the 2021 academic year, and the incidental allowance remains at R2900 (for students receiving the R15000, the incidental allowance is included). This is provided to students who live in catering accommodation where their meal costs are covered through the bursary. UNISA and distance-learning students who are taking an equivalent full-time course load, and who qualify for NSFAS, will also be eligible for this incidental allowance.
The travel allowance, which is provided to students who live at home or in accommodation that is not accredited (and therefore do not receive an accommodation allowance) remains at a maximum of R7500 for the 2021 academic year. In respect of the allowances provided, the policy provisions outlined in the 2020 Guidelines will remain in place for 2021.
The 2021 Guidelines will confirm the detail on all these issues once released.
I must indicate that the student funding policy of government which is provided to support students from poor and working class backgrounds (that is from families earning less than R350 000 per year) is a comprehensive one, because it provides support for both academic access and success.
We know that while access to appropriate support for students in full time study is one of many factors that support student success, it is indeed one of the most important. This is why government has committed such substantial funding to support students in public TVET colleges and universities. In many respects student support exceeds the earnings of many workers earning minimum wages and those who even earn below the minimum wage.
Government also has to ensure that it is able to meet other critical social obligations including social grants, support for school nutrition programmes, and effective support to the health system. These are the difficult balances that cabinet has to take into account when determining support for social expenditure.
I acknowledge that this period has been stressful for many prospective students wishing to enter post-school institutions as well as for their families.
I hope that today we have provided some assurance of the commitment of our government to addressing the funding needs of students from poor and working-class backgrounds in our higher education system, albeit under extreme difficult fiscal conditions. I look forward to a successful and peaceful academic year, and once again urge for all stakeholders to ensure constructive engagement around all issues they may face.
578 468 learners wrote the grade 12 examination in 2020. Of these, 210 820 learners achieved an NSC pass at Bachelor’s level; 150 600 learners achieved at Diploma level and 79 117 learners achieved at Higher Certificate level.
The available spaces for first time entering students for 2021 in the public university system as per the enrolment plan are 184 315 for the system as a whole.
In the scarce skills-areas the available first-time entering spaces are 67 863. Of these 16 647 are in the field of studies in Engineering, 17 161 in the field of study in Life and Physical Sciences, 10 155 in the fields of study of Human Health, 943 in the field of study of Animal Sciences, 211 in Veterinary Sciences and 22 746 in Initial Teacher Education.
One of the key sectors forming part of the sectoral master plans targeted for economic reconstruction and recovery as announced by President Ramaphosa during the State of the Nation Address is the agricultural industry.
I am pleased to announce that through the National Skills Fund (NSF) and the Agri-SETA joint funding, we will be providing bursaries to approximately 4000 students who are studying at agricultural colleges, using the NSFAS criteria. Such students are currently not being funded by NSFAS.
This funding will also ensure that we continue to step up support for black small-scale farmers and the implementation of the poultry master plan and the sugar master plan, amongst others.
We will ensure that we work very close with the Department of Agriculture and Agrarian reform to also restore the physical infrastructure of these Agricultural Colleges.
In conclusion, I want to take this opportunity to restate our vision and mission of a department of higher education and training that “of a South Africa in which we have a differentiated and fully-inclusive post-school system that allows South Africans to access relevant post-school education and training, in order to fulfil the economic and social goals of participation in an inclusive economy and society.
The Department’s mission is to develop capable, well-educated and skilled citizens who are able to compete in a sustainable, diversified and knowledge-intensive international economy, which meets the development goals of the country. This is our vision and mission to which Government is fully committed to.
I wish you all a safe, healthy and peaceful academic year. Let all remember to keep to all COVID-19 health and safety protocols.