Universities called upon to contact NSFAS to verify student information

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Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande called on universities to contact the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to ensure they verify their student information so that students funded by the NSFAS can accommodate laptops.

Speaking to the media about the department’s plans for post-school education and training (PSET) institutions on Wednesday – following the country’s move to Adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown – Nzimande announced that NSFAS had to date ordered 170,000 laptops from a designated service provider, with 90,060 arriving in the country and ready for distribution.

He said the rest of the laptops will arrive in the country in mid-July and mid-September 2021.

However, to date, verification of university student information according to the NSFAS portal has been slow.

“A total of 1,846 student information was shared with the provider, of which 1,123 was provided to four universities, namely University of Pretoria, University of the Free State (UFS), University of Durban Technology (DUT) and the University of Mpumalanga (UM).

“I call on our universities to contact NSFAS through the NSFAS portal to make sure they verify their student information. It is important that universities prioritize this task urgently,” said Nzimande.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students do not order through the NSFAS portal, however, NSFAS will prioritize TVET students for delivery.

“A total TVET list of 46,846 was recently shared with the provider for delivery. The provider will contact these students to arrange delivery as the campuses are currently closed. Of the 46,846, a total of 183 have been delivered to Cape Sud College TVET and 86 Central Johannesburg TVET, ”said Nzimande.

Exclusive online learning for all students

Regarding the measures applicable to the PSET sector during the current national lockdown restrictions, Nzimande said that in terms of the Adjusted Alert Lockdown 4 which has now been put in place, universities are not officially closing, but all teachings and exams must stop for the next two week period.

“Learning will switch exclusively to online learning for all students. The residences will remain open, as it is also not safe for students to return home at this time, and there is a need for students to keep access to campus and to Wi-Fi in residence.

“However, universities must continue to manage the residences according to the necessary health and safety protocols, as stated in the instructions and in accordance with the protocols developed by HIGHER HEALTH,” Nzimande said.

He warned that under no circumstances should mass social or other activities be allowed in residences or on campuses during this period and institutions are urged to strictly enforce the measures.

“It was also agreed that international and interprovincial travel will be discouraged and limited to essential services and needs. There will be controlled access to campuses for essential services and other activities that cannot be suspended at this time.

“As many staff members as possible who can do so should work from home. The sector will continue to be guided by the guidelines of March 29, 2021 and the COGTA (cooperative governance and traditional affairs) regulations of June 27,” he said. declared Nzimande.

The principle stated in the higher education sector guidelines is that all universities will manage their own academic activities, in accordance with national guidelines and health protocols, with the support of HIGHER HEALTH.

Institutions must also ensure that their COVID-19 work teams are functional and active during this time to manage institutional responses to the pandemic and maintain effective communication and consultation with staff and students.

The new directions provide guidance on issues, including institutional plans; campus health and safety; student accommodation and residences; psychosocial assistance for staff and students; academic courses and exams; graduation ceremonies and events; international students; and international travel and immunization.

(With contributions from the South African government press release)


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