Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has defended the government’s decision to increase the eligibility criteria for National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students to pass 75% of their modules to qualify for funding.
The government wants NSFAS students to pass 75% of their modules to qualify for funding from 2023.
Nzimande and his department have come under fire from student bodies and some of the opposition parties saying they wanted to exclude students from universities.
However, Nzimande denied this, saying it would ensure that students finish their degrees in record time.
Nzimande, who was answering oral questions in Parliament on Wednesday, said this was a progressive policy to ensure there are students who finish their degrees.
He said currently the guidelines are being reviewed by NSFAS and they will report back to him once they have finished with the consultation process.
“The proposed policy is aimed at encouraging students to pass their courses and/or modules each year and ultimately attain their qualification within the allowable timeframe. The proposed policy on the 75% progression rule, if implemented, would only apply as of the 2023 academic year and would not be applied to students who enter higher education for the first time. This is in recognition of the transition that many students make from high school to university,” said Nzimande.
“NSFAS is considering all the inputs at the moment that have been received through the curriculum consultation process. Once they are done they will submit the recommendations to me. The reason why there is consultation around increasing the number of modules to be passed each year is to ensure that students progress and are able, as much as possible, to finish their degrees or diplomas within the set time. At the moment progression is half, which means that if we keep that criteria a three-year degree will take six years to finish,” said Nzimande.
He said they cannot allow this to happen and that is why there is a need to review the guidelines.
He said the system would not allow people to stay longer and they need students to finish their degrees on time.