Students have launched a legal challenge against the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) – in particular the N+2 rule. They say the rule is being applied inappropriately. This is what NSFAS has said about the rule.
According to Sibongile Mncwabe, NSFAS chief corporate services officer, the NSFAS Bursary funding for students is limited to the minimum period of study for the qualification they are registered for. The scheme said that NSFAS funds a student for the duration of study provided that a student has met the academic progression criteria – in addition to the N+2 rule. This rule means that over and above the minimum period of study for a particular qualification, a student has an additional two years to complete their degree. In other words, NSFAS will cease to provide funding after this (plus two years) period.
Check out our previous coverage of this issue:
For some reason, according to the scheme, the N+ rule is not based on the number of years that a student has been funded, but on the number of years that the student has been registered at any public institution of higher learning in South Africa. They said “this policy is in place to ensure that students strive to complete their studies in record time to allow for a greater number of other poor and deserving students to access the NSFAS funding facility.”
The rule applies to all students funded before the 2018 free higher education pronouncement. In response to a question about whether the scheme is aware of the concerns of students, NSFAS said “After an in-depth examination as mandated by Minister Blade Nzimande on the N+2 rule extensive improvements towards the application of the rule were implemented and assessed accurately.”
NSFAS said they provide financial support to all “academically deserving students from poor and working-class backgrounds, who are admitted to study at public universities to obtain their first undergraduate qualification”. They said the department of higher education and training has made it clear that NSFAS should only fund a student’s first undergraduate qualification and not post-graduate qualifications.
The Daily Vox has been contacted by several students who say their funding was ended after they were told they’d exceeded the amount of years in the system. They said they hope they will be given the chance to appeal these decisions and that NSFAS will reverse their decision.
The legal challenge being undertaken by students will be heard in court in May.