Amid reports that higher marks were being imposed as criteria for student funding, Higher Education, Science, and Innovation Minister Dr. Blade Nzimande insists there is no truth to the claims.
On Wednesday, Nzimande dismissed, as unfounded, suggestions that his department and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) decided to increase the pass mark to 75% for students to qualify for funding.
“These reports are malicious, misleading and cause unnecessary confusion to current and prospective NSFAS beneficiaries because the Department of Higher Education has not as yet announced the 2022 Guidelines for the DHET [Department of Higher Education and Training] bursary scheme,” said the minister.
However, Nzimande admitted internal consultations were taking place between the Department of Higher Education and NSFAS officials on the 2022 Guidelines for the DHET bursary scheme.
“The consultations will be extended to the entire PSET [Post School Education and Training] sector before the official announcement of the approved 2022 Guidelines by Minister Nzimande following the conclusion of all the consultations,” said the department.
Meanwhile, the South African Students Congress (SASCO) said it remained opposed to any form of systematic exclusion of the poor and working-class children within the higher education sector.
“We are convinced that NSFAS policy and guidelines must be in sync with the exclusion pass rate of all institutions of higher learning, which is 55%. We can’t have a NSFAS policy that exists outside that consideration as it will create unnecessary confusion,” said SASCO.
“We believe that this would be a considerate move and any other wouldn’t be a good return on investment as many non-excluded students by institutions would be without funding even though they would be still registered.”
SASCO also said it would continue to lobby for an increase in the income bracket ceiling of guardians and parents of students who qualify for funding to R600 000 per year.
“We don’t believe that someone whose pay is R33 333 a month must be considered under the so-called ‘Missing-Middle’ any longer,” said SASCO.