The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) said it was satisfied with the information that it had received regarding free higher education and has even welcomed the pronouncement made by President Jacob Zuma.
The NSFAS said the decision reaffirmed government’s commitment to improving access to higher education and training, suggesting that the move might have even been long overdue.
When Deputy Education Minister Buti Manamela spoke to the media earlier this week, he said there had been nothing extra-ordinary about government’s position on free higher education, adding that there had already been elements of it implemented in the past.
NSFAS confirmed that in a statement it released on Wednesday.
“NSFAS has been providing elements of free education through provision of bursaries to TVET college students over the years, as well as some university students whose final year loans were converted to bursaries based on their academic performance,” said NSFAS Chief Executive Steven Zwane.
Questions had been raised about the preparedness of tertiary institutions to handle the implementation of this programme.
However, NSFAS – like Manamela – believes that universities and colleges should be ready for any challenges that might manifest themselves during the registration period.
“NSFAS is of the view that the President’s pronouncement which involves doing away with the Loan portion of the funding, will expand the reach and impact of free education that government has been providing through NSFAS over the years,” added Zwane.
“We are proud to have provided financial assistance to more than 3 million beneficiaries since our establishment in 1991 and we are pleased to continue to build on this legacy.”