Less stu­dents get NSFAS

CityPress - - Business - DE­WALD VAN RENS­BURG de­wald.vrens­burg@city­press.co.za

This week’s bud­get held up R16.3 bil­lion in “repri­ori­tised” state money to pay for some con­ces­sions made to the #FeesMustFall move­ment. The R16.3 bil­lion is for three years and con­sists of:

R5.7 bil­lion (over three years) to make up the loss of fee in­come due to the 0% in­crease con­ces­sion. This goes straight to the 26 univer­si­ties as an in­crease in their an­nual sub­sidy.

R2.5 bil­lion (one-off) to the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to pay the debts of 71 753 stu­dents who stud­ied be­tween 2013 and last year.

R8 bil­lion for Nsfas to im­prove its sup­port for “un­der­funded” stu­dents al­ready in the sys­tem.

A key part of the plan to avert the co­nun­drum of un­der­funded stu­dents who get left in the lurch half­way through their stud­ies is to sim­ply fund fewer stu­dents.

Those who do get fund­ing from Nsfas will, how­ever, get more com­pre­hen­sive sup­port.

Among the ex­pen­di­ture es­ti­mates re­leased with the na­tional bud­get this week are Nsfas’ pro­jec­tions through to 2018.

The num­ber of univer­sity stu­dents it sup­ports this year will drop by 13% from 225 648 to 195 458.

The num­ber of stu­dents at Vo­ca­tional Education and Train­ing col­leges who get Nsfas aid will like­wise drop by 10% – from 267 991 to 240 074.

This flows from “re­vised and more ac­cu­rate fore­casts on the num­ber of stu­dents likely to be funded for full cost of study [in­clud­ing tu­ition, ac­com­mo­da­tion, books and meals] from avail­able funds”, reads the doc­u­ment.

The in­ten­tion is to start grow­ing the num­ber of sup­ported stu­dents again, but the num­bers will stay lower than last year be­yond 2018.

Pravin Gord­han’s bud­get does try to fill the gap by propos­ing bet­ter tax breaks to em­ploy­ers who give bur­saries to their work­ers or work­ers’ chil­dren.

Pre­vi­ously, tax breaks ap­plied if the em­ployee earned less than R250 000. Now it will be­come R400 000 – ad­dress­ing the “miss­ing middle”.

The tax break will ap­ply to amounts up to R40 000 in­stead of R30 000 pre­vi­ously.

A com­pre­hen­sive so­lu­tion to the core de­mands for free univer­sity education is, how­ever, far away, with pro­pos­als set for de­liv­ery next year.

A small part of the R16.3 bil­lion came from the un­spent cash pile of the Sec­tor Education and Train­ing Au­thor­i­ties (Se­tas).

The Se­tas’ in­abil­ity to spend the bil­lions they re­ceive from the Skills Fund makes them an ob­vi­ous pig­gy­bank to tap for univer­sity fund­ing into the fu­ture.

The Bud­get Re­view sug­gests this is ex­actly what might hap­pen – just as the Seta sys­tem is un­der­go­ing a re­form to cen­tralised con­trol of funds in na­tional govern­ment.

“Govern­ment is ex­am­in­ing whether the levy is the best way to sup­port skills de­vel­op­ment, and whether funds raised can also be used to im­prove ac­cess to on-the-job train­ing and post-school education,” reads the Bud­get Re­view.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.