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Minister says NSFAS will not pay accommodation providers more money after academic year spills into 2021

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Universities and private student accommodation providers hoping to pocket more money from students due to the extension of the current academic year to March 2021 are in for a shock.

De Goede Hoop, student res in Sunnyside. Picture: Oupa Mokoena

Johannesburg – Private student accommodation providers and universities hoping to pocket more money from students due to the extension of the current academic year to March 2021 are in for a shock.

In a bold directive, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has told public institutions and private residence operators that students should not be made to fork out more than fees stipulated in leases signed at the beginning of this year.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) also won’t pay more for tuition and accommodation as the 2020 academic year had been extended, Nzimande said.

Students left their rented rooms vacant, he said. “The lockdown resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic in the higher education sector from March 2020 has resulted in changes to the 2020 academic year.

“The majority of higher education students returned to their respective homes in or around March 2020.”

The payment of the 2020 fees should be spread out to cover the period up until March 2021, the minister’s directive said.

“The cost for university-leased accommodation remains at the same level for the 2020 academic year, regardless of its length, subject to an agreement that the original fee would be paid for both the 2020 academic year and 2021 academic year (with an agreed inflation-linked increase for 2021),” he said.

The Star