A+ student denied funds for further study

Maphala Modisane is caught between a rock and a hard place as she can't find a job or funds to study for an advanced diploma./SANDILE NDLOVUU
Maphala Modisane is caught between a rock and a hard place as she can't find a job or funds to study for an advanced diploma./SANDILE NDLOVUU

A student who achieved 16 distinctions in her undergraduate diploma at the University of Johannesburg is frustrated that she cannot study further because her application for financial aid was rejected by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Adding to her worries is her inability to find employment.

Maphala Modisane, 22, of KwaThema in Springs on the East Rand, was able to secure funding from NSFAS when she was in her second year of a financial services operation diploma at UJ in 2017.

Modisane worked hard to ensure that she could get "above average" marks and thought that would enable her to secure more funding to further her studies.

Last year, Modisane completed her diploma with a total of 16 distinctions.

She said she had been applying for work or an internship to no avail.

"I have been applying for internships without luck because at times I will apply for jobs only to find that it is a scam. Sometimes it's just plain rejection.

"I am always on the lookout for a job. Just last week, I applied for two graduate programmes and I am waiting for a response," Modisane said.

Her struggles with finding a job are the reason for the decision to study full time again, this time for an advanced diploma in financial markets, also at the University of Johannesburg.

NSFAS turned down her application.

"I had trusted that [my] academic record would make them to consider me to be a hard worker. I honestly thought it was enough.

"I am disappointed. Not so long ago we were fighting for free quality education. Last year, we were told that students who are funded by NSFAS, won't have to pay back.

"I felt at least there is hope, I thought they would probably change their policy for other qualification," said Modisane.

"What's worse is that this is an undergraduate course. I am doing an undergraduate diploma. I don't understand why should I be sidelined by NSFAS."

Her struggle to find funding for her studies has also hit hard on the family.

Department of higher education and training director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde said: "NSFAS funds you to attain a first qualification. Once you have it, the scheme focuses on the next applicant who is doing their first qualification.

"We have limited resources in the country. There are too many children coming from poor families. We are trying to help as many as possible for them to get their undergraduate qualifications."

Qonde said there were separate programmes funded in relation to postgraduate qualification in order to increase the number of black academics.

These programmes, he said, were separate from NSFAS normal funding. These programmes are conducted by the department working with the academic institutions.

UJ spokesperson Herman Esterhuizen said it was not the institution's decision not to fund Modisane.

"The student did complete the national diploma in financial services operations for which the student was funded by NSFAS. Thereafter, she enrolled for the advanced diploma in financial markets. However, NSFAS does not fund advanced diplomas across the sector. This criteria is set by NSFAS and not UJ," said Esterhuizen.

Responding to Sowetan's enquiry, NSFAS spokesperson, Kagisho Mamabolo cited regulations governing the scheme for his reluctance to speak directly about Modisane's case.

"NSFAS would not want to deal with any of its beneficiaries or prospective beneficiaries through the media, because NSFAS is a registered credit provider in terms of the National Credit Act," Mamabolo said.

"We have an obligation not to give financial particulars of beneficiaries or prospective beneficiaries to third parties."

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