Students to protest over Nsfas funding cuts, new payment methods
The protest follows violent student protests earlier this month at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
A view of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Picture: esango.cput.ac.za
Students from various universities in the Western Cape are expected to march on Wednesday to the head office of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) in Cape Town.
In a joint statement on Tuesday, student representative council (SRC) leaders from universities in the Western Cape and the Free State said they would be embarking on a protest action over funding grievances and Nsfas’ new student allowance payment methods.
The protest follows violent student protests earlier this month at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) in response to the scheme’s announcement of a new rule that threatened to defund students enrolled in courses under 60 credits.
Nsfas explained that the new rule requires students who are enrolled in courses that add up to less than 60 credits collectively to provide their own funding for their living expenses.
SRC leaders have alleged that some students have not yet received funding and others were wrongfully defunded since the academic year began in February.
They also claim that some students only received funding for study materials, not for their meals and accommodation. They also allege that students who appealed their rejection for funding are in limbo because the scheme has failed to address their appeals.
“Nsfas has also taken another barbaric approach by hampering and disadvantaging the academic performance of students registered for less than 60 credits towards their qualification.
“This scheme has decided that this cohort of students is only eligible for a learning materials allowance, excluding them from meal and accommodation allowances,” the SRC leaders said in their joint statement.
Nsfas bank accounts
Student leaders have also raised concerns about Nsfas’ new payment method, which will see this year’s student allowances paid through the scheme’s bank accounts.
Students have argued that bank accounts could enable corruption to flourish among service providers.
“Students can register at the beginning of the year and later deregister, but they will continue to receive their allowances even when they are not students. In the same light, many students do not get accommodation at the beginning of the year and continue to stay at home or with their friends [while they] receive travelling allowances.
“As the year progresses, should they now get accommodation, the universities can pick that up and immediately cease the distribution of travel allowances. How will these companies be able to pick up such information, or will they continue to pay students travel allowances and later charge them for fraud?”