‘R4,5bn must be set aside to help 70k students next year’

A task team set up to look at the NSFAS recommended govt make R4,5 billion available.

Thousands of university students across the country protested against proposed fee hikes at their respective institutions. Picture: Andiswa Mkosi/Primedia.

JOHANNESBURG - The presidency says a task team set up to look at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) shortfall has recommended government make R4,5 billion available to help more than 70,000 students next year.

The scheme has a massive shortfall as a result of the Fees Must Fall movement earlier this year.

President Jacob Zuma vowed that university fees would not increase in 2016.

WATCH: The day fees 'fell'

The task team recommends that R2,5 billion be made available from the fiscus, in the form of loans, to provide short-term debt relief to the students who were funded inadequately or were unable to access financial aid over the 2013/2015 academic year.

Another R2 billion is required for the 2016/2017 financial year to ensure funded students continue to receive NSFAS support next year.

The report states that NSFAS should improve its administrative system and engage with universities and students to ensure that the rules of the scheme are clearly understood.

Universities are also recommended to review and improve the effectiveness of their communication system with students on all issues including NSFAS matters.

Zuma says he will soon announce the members of the commission that will look at among others, the introduction of free higher education to improve access for financially disadvantage pupils.

Take a look at EWN's special feature on the Year of the Student.