Implementation of free education not all smooth sailing

Implementation of free education not all smooth sailing

Some students at institutions of higher learning who qualify for free higher education have yet to  receive their funding.

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In 2017, government announced it would be phasing in free higher education for the poor from 2018.

The Minister of Higher Education and Training, Naledi Pandor and the CEO of the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Steven Zwane, briefed the media on the implementation of the policy in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

Pandor admitted the integration of student information is proving to be a major challenge. 

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“Some institutions reported to me that they have submitted required data but their students have not received funds. Again I have instructed NSFAS to urgently address the integration issues and work with the affected institutions.”

The University of South Africa (UNISA) is badly affected, with some students receiving their tuition fees but not their allowances.

"Part of the information exchange is that before we pay any student, they must have signed a contract and at the moment that has been one of the biggest challenges we are facing. We cannot pay money into account if the student has not signed," Zwane said. 

Some student information, which was successfully submitted by institutions to NSFAS, ended up going missing.

"There are also institutions that are still owed funds from previous years and have used the upfront fee payment to cover the gap that results from those previous years. So all of these are matters that we are ironing out and processing along with the support of the chairperson and CEO of NSFAS," Pandor said.  

The Government has also allocated additional funding for free education, which will increase from R9.849 billion in 2017/18 to R35.321 billion in 2020/21

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