Naledi Pandor restores hope for final year students unable to register this year. 

South African minister of higher education and training, Naledi Pandor, has announced on that all academically qualifying final-year students eligible for NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme), should be allowed to register for the 2019 academic year regardless of outstanding debt. The announcement was made via a statement released on Friday, February 15 following a meeting with SRC presidents from South Africa’s 26 public universities, the South African Student’s Union (SAUS) and NSFAS in Pretoria.

“No NSFAS qualifying student who was registered in 2018, and who has been admitted to a university and meets the academic criteria for continuation should be prevented from registering in 2019 due to outstanding fees,” said the minister in the statement.

The qualifying students will be allowed to register provided they sign an AoD (Acknowledgement of Debt) form.

“I am particularly concerned about any final year students who may be on track to completion this year, but may have been blocked from registering due to outstanding debt… no academically successful student who is about to complete their studies should be prevented from graduating,” said Pandor in the statement.

The arrangement prioritises students in their final year by making available a sum of R30.8 billion to NSFAS assist financially-needy students universities and TVET colleges this year.

Wits University, via tweets, confirmed that the agreement does not extend to all students waiting to register but only those prioritised by the department.

“Wits University has been informed that only students in their final year of study with debt should be registered. The funds have not been provided but the DHET (Department of Higher Education and Training), has committed to work with universities on this matter,” read a tweet from the institution.

The DHET is confident the new agreement will not result in financial issues for any kind for public universities.

“The government is still working out a way of dealing with issues of historic debt,” said Lunga Ngqengelele, the DHET media liaison officer.

FEATURED IMAGE: Institutions of higher learning urged to allow final-year students eligible for NSFAS to be allowed to register. Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi