Government has increased funding to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to cater for poor and disabled students, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande said on Monday.
“NSFAS will be funding 205,000 first-time entering and continuing eligible students at universities and 200,000 students at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in 2015,” he said in Pretoria.
The government scheme would provide loans and bursaries totalling R9.5 billion.
“In 2014, NSFAS provided student loans and bursaries totalling over R8.3 billion, which excluded the once-off allocation of R1 billion for the servicing of the 2013 shortfall of R700 million and 2014 shortfall of R300 million.”
Nzimande said the National Skills Fund (NSF) made further annual allocations to the NSFAS aimed at funding the full cost of study in critical skills study programmes.
“NSFAS has been allocated over R526.9 million for bursaries for scarce and critical skills for the current year from the NSF.
“This funding is made available through the financial aid offices in universities. Students wishing to make use of these bursaries are advised to enroll for critical skills which include science, commerce, health science, engineering etc.”
Nzimande said there were 425,095 opportunities in post-school tertiary education and training. This was an increase of 28,646 from the 396,449 provided in 2014.
These opportunities included 204,522 university places, 44,000 places for engineering and business studies at TVET colleges, and training for 16,250 aspiring artisans.