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By Getrude Makhafola

Premium Journalist

Nsfas adds 3 000 beds to ease student housing crisis

An additional 3 000 beds have been secured this month.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) says it is engaging private accommodation service providers across the country, and has added an additional 3 000 beds this month.

The entity’s top management appeared before the Higher Education Portfolio Committee in Parliament on Wednesday, following an uproar over the shortage of accommodation at institutions across the country.

Nsfas COO Nthuseng Mphahlele said inspection of the properties started last month. Listing of accommodation with the entity went live in November last year.

Workshops for the service providers to attune them with Nsfas requirements continued.

“Most of them are small to medium service providers coming into the space for the first time. We picked up that we had to educate them because there was a huge gap in understanding what student accommodation needs to look like.

“We are verifying available beds and fast-tracking the increase of accommodation for students. A lot of work has to still be done with the property owners on the national cap. It seems many believe what they can claim is the R45 000 whether they meet the minimum standards or not.”

Almost 400 000 beds registered

So far, 38 national accreditors have been trained and have undertaken the task of checking private student accommodation nationwide.

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Mphahlele set lodging costs varied across regions in the country.

“The average cost of accommodation is R33 000. We have at least six institutions that are above the average for the Nsfas’ R45 000 cap.

“At least 3 027 beds have been accredited between 13 and 17 March. There should be another 3 000 beds or more that are accredited by the end of this week.

“By 20 March 2023, there was a total of 393 227 beds that have been registered by 20 751 accommodation providers across the country,” she said.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced in January that students housed at university accommodation would receive R65 000 cap annually for accommodation, while those accommodated in private lodging would get R45 000.

Accreditors started their work in Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga in the first week of March.

Allowance increase to be backdated

Mphahlele said payments were made on 31 January 2023 to universities and TVET colleges.

Following Nzimande’s announcement of a 10% living allowance increase, Nsfas says it would backdate allowances to factor in the increase.

“Over 71 000 students TVET college students have been paid allowances so far this year. Nsfas pays based on registration data received, and for TVETs, we received 118 492 registration records.

“Another payment was made to universities on 06 March 2023. The majority of students not paid are due to late registration data submitted by institutions,” she said.

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