The Higher Education department wants to ensure that funded students have access to suitable accommodation while they are studying. Accommodation providers can now prove that their accommodation is worth the money being paid by the department.
Thousands of students rely on bursaries from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to fund their higher education journey. The comprehensive bursaries provided by Nsfas Pay funded students’ tuition fees, transport costs, education material costs and grocery costs.
Nsfas also provides an accommodation allowance to funded students. The accommodation allowance ensures that students can live closer to the university or college where they are studying.
Without the accommodation allowances, many students who live far from the higher learning institution they attend may not be able to attend class regularly.
The need for accommodation by students has also resulted in the creation and establishment of new accommodation facilities. However, not all of these accommodation facilities are conducive to studying and may not be appropriate for students to reside in.
In an effort to ensure students have accommodation that is conducive to learning, Nsfas launched a portal which allows accommodation providers to be considered for Nsfas funded students.
Once signed in, accommodation providers will be able to list their properties by providing their property names, location and images. Nsfas will then contact them and send a panel of experts to accredit and grade the properties to ensure that they are suitable for student living.
In 2021, Nsfas allocated funded-students with an accommodation as per the actual costs charged by the university they attend. The cost of private accommodation must not exceed the cost of what the university accommodation will cost.
Nsfas also provides accommodation allowances to students enrolled in approved learning programmes at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) college. However, Nsfas calculates this accommodation allowance based on the type of area the accommodation is situated in.
Students living in accommodation in an urban area will receive an allowance of R24,000 per annum. Students living in peri-urban areas are allocated with an accommodation allowance of R18,900 per annum while students living in rural areas receive an accommodation allowance of R15,750 per annum.
Nsfas will also sign off-take agreements with relevant stakeholders for the provision of student accommodation for Nsfas beneficiaries. An off-take agreement is an arrangement between a producer and a buyer to purchase or sell portions of the producer’s upcoming goods or services.
In the case of Nsfas, they want accommodation providers to agree to host the scheme’s beneficiaries in their accommodation facilities.
The application process to sign off-take agreements is for underdeveloped and yet-to-be-developed accommodation facilities. These do not apply to accommodation providers who are currently providing accommodation to Nsfas beneficiaries.