Following Minister Blade Nzimande's briefing on updates in the higher education sector, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) is now demanding that students receive their laptops from NSFAS to finish the 2020 academic year instead of receiving them next year
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Following Minister Blade Nzimande's briefing on updates in the higher education sector, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) is now demanding that students receive their laptops from NSFAS to finish the 2020 academic year instead of receiving them next year. They have also responded to other aspects of the Minister's briefing which held many important updates.
During the Minister's briefing, he said that laptops are now being procured and that students will only be receiving them next year. This, SAUS says, is regrettable as many students still need the laptops to finish the current academic year.
The Union have therefore decided to make an urgent appeal to the department to deliver the devices to students as early as possible, "so that all deserving students are not prejudiced".
They also reject the proposed fee increase for 2021. Nzimande made it clear that fee increases need to happen to keep higher educations sustained but that he will make sure that increases do not exceed 4.7% for tuition and 6.7% for accommodation.
SAUS is of the opinion that, "the submission to university councils regarding a CPI-linked fee increase of 4.7% for tuition and 6.7% for residences is at odds with the socio-economic realities of many students and households today and the financial challenges and recoveries as a result of the COVID pandemic".
They believe the increase doesn't make sense when looking at financial constraints citizens of South Africa are facing as well as the student debt which amounted to R9 billion this year as the increase will worsen these factors.
The position of SAUS is very clear that we want a zero percent fee increase for the 2021 academic year.
The Union is also asking that the Department of Higher Education to communicate with universities to ensure that Private Landlords stop evicting students from residences due to payment challenges during the extension of the academic year.
"If there was any moment for a private landlord to practice corporate social responsibility is now during covid-19 by ensuring that students are supported and allowed to stay to finish the academic year," continued the Union.
Before the Minister took to the podium to highlight updates in the higher education sector, he had engagements with SAUS on student challenges and demands ranging from the N+2 rule, NSFAS appeals, student allowances, fees for 2021, laptops and data, etc.
The Union welcomes the Minister's announcements regarding the extension of NSFAS allowances, the appointment of a NSFAS board as the current Administrator finishes his term and the conclusion of the laptop tender process.
As SAUS, we further would like to commend the Leadership provided by the outgoing NSFAS Administrator and the Minister in responding to this request with the necessary urgency and given the limited resources already affecting the sector
SAUS assures students that, "The new board will receive SAUS’s undivided support to ensure that the interests of students are championed moving forward" as a team of SAUS representatives meet with the new board and management to make sure that the work done already by outgoing Administrator Randall Carolissen is continued.
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