The Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, has assured first-time entry students of a smooth transition into post-school and tertiary education.
He said the department has made a concerted effort in the post-school education and training (PSET) sector. This is to ensure a successful start to the 2024 academic year.
Nzimande was briefing the media in Pretoria on the state of readiness of the PSET sector for the 2024 academic year.
Number of challenges highlighted
A number of challenges were highlighted as cause for concern. These include the late release date of the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results on January 19.
The early start dates of the academic year of different of institutions of higher learning, with some starting even before the NSC results were out.
And the closing date for applications for bursaries and loans at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
Engagements with stakeholders
However, Nzimande said there have been engagements with different stakeholders in the sector. This was to ensure that the misalignment of closing dates is mitigated.
The minister was flanked by director-general Dr Nkosinathi Sishi. Deputy minister Buti Manamela and acting NSFAS chair Dr Lourens van Staden also accompanied him.
Eight universities will be accepting late applications, he said, and space is available at TVET and community colleges.
The Central Application Clearing House (Cach) system will also be available. It will offer prospective students one-stop access point to all institutions that still have space available. The Cach system will be accessible from January 26.
Various universities will accept applications
“Universities which will accept late applications are Cape Peninsula University of Technology and the Durban University of Technology.
“Mangosuthu University of Technology and Rhodes University [will also do]. [Others are] Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Fort Hare. The University of Zululand and Walter Sisulu University [will also open their doors].”
Nzimande said NSFAS will make upfront payments of R4.2-billion to public institutions of higher learning. This is to make provision for the registration of NSFAS bursary recipients.
He said institutions have been requested to allow students who have outstanding fees to register.
NSFAS roped in
He added that NSFAS has made agreements with student accommodation providers to accept students.
Nzimande said as of January 21, NSFAS has received 1, 545 822 applications for the 2024 academic year. Adding that the scheme anticipates more application by the close day.
“NSFAS has provisionally funded 657, 703 applicants who are Sassa recipients,” he said.