Northlink college promises to pay student allowances despite NSFAS funding shortfall

Students say they will continue boycotting classes until their money is paid

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Northlink students in Bellville are boycotting classes until the college pays them their NSFAS travel allowances. Photo: Nombulelo Damba-Hendrik

  • Northlink college students in Bellville are boycotting classes until their National Student Financial Aid Scheme funds are paid.
  • The college has promised that travel allowances for eligible students will be paid this week.
  • This week, the higher education minister announced that the scheme had a funding shortfall.
  • The SA Human Rights Commission says it too has been inundated with complaints by students over their NSFAS funding and applications.

Northlink college students in Bellville say they will continue protesting until their National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds are paid into their accounts.

A shortfall in the scheme’s funding was announced by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande on Monday. Nzimande admitted that the scheme was currently unable to confirm funding eligibility for new students, among other constraints.

“I am aware that this has caused great anxiety for prospective students and their families given that registration processes and induction programmes are already under way in some institutions. This situation has put considerable pressure on our institutions, which have been unable to finalise their registration and admission processes,” he said.

Students at Northlink have been protesting since last week. Many of them at the Bellville campus are demanding travel allowances of about R1,025 which they claim the college did not pay since December 2020. Ronald Van Roy on behalf of Northlink had told GroundUp that the college was waiting for NSFAS to verify the approved list of funded students.

According to SRC president Andile Manqindi, the college had promised to pay last Friday, but only a few students received their money. Manqindi said classes have been suspended since last Friday. “The money was only paid to a few students; the majority did not get the payment,” said Manqindi.

On Monday, student leaders met with the campus management. Manqindi said they were told that NSFAS had since verified the funding list and payments will be made by the end of this week.

“Unfortunately students refused to return to classes until the college confirms when the payment will be paid,” he said.

Lisolethu Alimeni explained that she lives in Worcester and spent close to R500 travelling to college per week. “The allowance used to cover two weeks and my mother gave me the rest but now things are more difficult. She has to give me all of my sibling’s child support grants to travel here,” she said.

Meanwhile, the SA Human Rights Commission said in a statement that it would meet with NSFAS and the department following the excessive number of complaints they’ve received on the matter. Communication Coordinator Gushwell Brook said some complaints also deal with the accessibility and flaws in NSFAS’s appeal procedures for students rejected by the scheme.

Manqindi said students have applied to march on Friday to the Northlink College CEO at the Parow campus.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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