The National Students Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) said on Thursday it would not be reopening applications for funding for the 2018 academic year, but would work with tertiary institutions to assist students who failed to do so in time.

South African universities are scrambling to manage the influx of students who have flocked in to register following the government’s announcement of free tertiary education for the poor from this year. 

South Africa’s 26 public universities insist they will not accept last minute walk-in applications despite the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) encouraging high school matriculants to do so.

Nsfas applications for funding for learners wishing to pursue their studies at the public universities and 50 Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges opened on 1 August and closed on 30 November 2017.

“We have noted with concern incorrect information that Nsfas will open for funding applications effective from 03 January 2018. We would like to announce that this information did not come from Nsfas,” Nsfas said in a statement.

“Nsfas will not be re-opening 2018 funding applications, but will work with institutions of higher learning to assist with funding decisions for students who have applied for academic spaces without having applied for Nsfas funding and others.”

By 1 November 2017, Nsfas had received more than 130,000 applications, against a target of 200,000 applications.

In 2017, the entity disbursed R12.4 billion to both the public universities and TVET Colleges, representing a 34 percent increase from R9.2 billion in the prior academic year. Nsfas funded a total of 451,507 students, a nine percent increase from the 414,949 students supported in 2016.

Of these, 225,950 were students at universities whose received R10.3 billion and while 225,557 TVET college students were awarded funding amounting to R2.1 billion.

 – African News Agency (ANA)