The Minister of Higher Education recently gave an update on how the department plans to distribute learning material allowances and provide data to NSFAS qualifying students in South Africa’s public universities.
The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande confirmed on Wednesday that the guidelines for Higher Education Bursary Scheme(NSFAS) enable qualifying students at public universities to use their learning allowances to purchase electronic equipment.
In response to a written parliamentary question, Minister Nzimande said on Wednesday that all university students qualify for a learning materials allowance which is set at a maximum of R5200.
He added that the University of Zululand indicated that 438 students were notified that they had mistakenly received laptops as well as the R5200 learning material allowance in April 2021.
The University recovered the upfront R5 200 that students received as a once-off payment. The University deducted the amount over the remaining period of the 2021 academic year from the students’ meal allowances,
He further stated that the students in question received laptops and meal allowance without having to pay for the laptops.
In response to questions relating to the provision of data, the Minister said that data provision for online access to teaching and learning as well as assessment remained a high requirement across the system.
The average data provision requirement across the system for all undergraduate students was 90% and 91% for NSFAS students, as reported by institutions in the September 2021 monitoring reports,
Additionally, he stated that fourteen universities including (CPUT, MUT, SPU, UCT, UFS, UJ, UKZN, UMP, UP, UNISA, UNIZULU, UWC, WITS, and WSU) have reported that 100% of their students have received data.
Seven universities (NMU, SMU, SUN, TUT, UFH, UL, and VUT) have reported that 90% to 99% of their students were provided with data.
The Minister also revealed that DUT reported that 85% of their students have received data. CPUT reported 73%, NWU reported that 70% of their students have been provided with data in the period.
UNIVEN reported 45% of their students to have been provided with data in the period under review. RU reported 13% of their students to have been provided with data, said the Minister.
He also pointed out that data provided should not be a requirement for students who reside in student residences who already have access to WiFi.
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