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Poor students denied funds

By Anna Majavu | May 20, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

ABOUT 16000 needy students were denied funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.

The provisional number of students denied funding last year was a whopping 45percent more than the 11120 students who were denied funding in 2008.

Yet in 2008, tertiary institutions sent back more than R40million to the scheme as unspent money.

The information emerged yesterday in a Parliamentary reply to the DA's Wilmot James.

To qualify for financial aid, students must have been accepted at a university or college and their family incomes must be less than R122000 a year. All of those denied funding in 2008 and 2009 met these criteria.

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, pictured, said universities had not provided him with reasons for excluding some students from the scheme.

"It could be that they received bursaries elsewhere such as from private companies," he said yesterday.

James said the situation was made worse by the fact that there were many more students whose families earned just above R120000 a year who could not even apply for bursaries.

"We believe the financial aid threshold of the scheme ought to be shifted from R120000 to R160000, to expand access to opportunities. The funds are available, the students are willing; the scheme must now do its job and make sure that the funds are correctly distributed," said James.

Last year Nzimande asked universities not to keep out students who are so poor that they do not even have enough money to pay their registration fees.

Nzimande said yesterday that 18 tertiary institutions had responded to his call to register students who could not pay upfront.


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