Students who are funded by the government bursary for education students complain that late payment dates often leave them hungry and homeless.

Funza Lushaka is a full bursary, yet students complain that the money only arrives in June, “while we starve for the first part of the year”. The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was had to write tests on an empty stomach because he could not afford to buy food.

“I was forced to move in with my girlfriend so that she can pay rent and provide food for me.”

Another recipient of the bursary, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “We are expected to suffer.” When he received his bursary money, all he could do was pay back the friends who had lent him money in the first part of the year.

“If you don’t pay them back you must know you will be starving next year again.”

Besides the late payment, the fourth year student was critical of the way the matter was handled by campus officials. “And when we ask about where the money is we get the most arrogant comments from them.”

Administrative assistant at the education campus, Mfundo Mbatha, said the money reflected in the students’ accounts as early as February, but was “not really there”.  The government’s financial year began in April and the bursary money only became available from June.

Commenting on the complaint about how the matter was handled, she said: “Funza [Lushaka] students are known for being rude … they say:  ‘Where is my money?’”

Graham Hall, an education consultant, said: “The students know the procedures, they must therefore budget accordingly.”  Hall said this was a great initiative by government, who spent R1.2bn on Funza Lushaka bursaries between 2007 and 2011.