More money for stu­dents

Per­sonal care al­lowance to be added to fund­ing, but union says it’s still not enough

Cape Argus - - METRO - SISONKE MLAMLA [email protected]

THEY get free tu­ition, free ac­com­mo­da­tion, free meals and free books. Now stu­dents will also get a R275 monthly stipend for per­sonal care from the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (Nsfas).

Nsfas spokesper­son Kag­isho Mam­abolo said they would be in­tro­duc­ing a “new al­lowance” to more than 800000 stu­dents for their in­ci­den­tal or per­sonal care needs. “This is in an ef­fort to im­prove the qual­ity of life for stu­dents,” Mam­abolo said.

“The in­tro­duc­tion of the per­sonal al­lowance came as a re­sult of nu­mer­ous en­gage­ments with var­i­ous stake­hold­ers and stu­dents on how Nsfas could best as­sist in is­sues of per­sonal ne­ces­si­ties,” Mam­abolo said.

Nsfas ad­min­is­tra­tor Ran­dall Carolis­sen said the al­lowance will be added to the cur­rent stu­dent al­lowances.

He said the aim of Nsfas is to pro­vide fund­ing to poor and work­ing-class stu­dents, but “this can­not be re­alised with­out ad­dress­ing some of the so­cio-eco­nomic is­sues, which have a di­rect im­pact on stu­dent life”.

“This al­lowance will cover some of stu­dents’ toi­letry and san­i­tary needs in or­der to en­sure they are al­ways in class.” Carolis­sen said young women are of­ten forced to miss classes be­cause they lack san­i­tary tow­els.

He said it’s against the gov­ern­ment pol­icy for in­sti­tu­tions to refuse Ns­fas­ap­proved stu­dents reg­is­tra­tion. “Nsfas has a long-stand­ing agree­ment with uni­ver­si­ties, there­fore Nsfas-funded stu­dents should not be asked to pay reg­is­tra­tion fees as this is cov­ered as part of their bur­sary,” Carolis­sen said.

The South African Union of Stu­dents (Saus) agreed with Nsfas on the R275 per­sonal care al­lowance, but Saus sec­re­tary gen­eral Lwandile Mt­solo said they be­lieve the “money is not enough”.

He said the cur­rent stan­dard­ised meal al­lowance is lower than at most uni­ver­si­ties.

“We do not agree with the stan­dard­ised al­lowance of R1350. We want R2300 for our stu­dents,” Mt­solo said, adding that their union was still dis­cussing the mat­ter.

Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy (CPUT) SRC chair­per­son, Tho­bile Tshefu of Athlone cam­pus, said it was a great ini­tia­tive by Nsfas but felt that it was un­nec­es­sary.

Tshefu said CPUT stu­dents were al­ready re­ceiv­ing a R1 000 meal al­lowance plus R500 cash a month and a R5000 book al­lowance.

“Why can’t Nsfas in­vest the money for their staff and boost their ser­vices for the stu­dents to re­ceive quicker re­sponses from them?”

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