The Department of Higher Education released the national framework for tuition and accommodation fees for the 2020 academic year. This will now give us guidance on what will be done about student fees now that a whole pandemic has been added to the equation.
The statement released read:
The purpose of the framework is to prescribe temporary payment and cash flow measures or steps currently necessary to alleviate, contain and minimise the effects of the COVID-19 threat to the public higher education sector.
This framework highlighted the following:
The payment of NSFAS allowances to students, particularly the allowances for living and accommodation expenses
The payment of university-managed accommodation fees for the 2020 and 2021 academic years
The payment of accommodation fees for those living in private accommodation, both University leased and individually leased accommodation
The payment of tuition fees
No matter how much time is being added on to the original academic calendar due to Covid-19 resulting in an extension of the academic year, tuition fees will stay the same at all institutions and will be seen as a package regardless of how long the academic year is.
University-owned accommodation fees will stay the same no matter how long the academic year is, however it’s “capped to the end of March 2021”, based on the assumption that students won’t be at their accommodation for some periods of time.
University-leased accommodation fees will also stay the same, regardless of an extension of the academic year. Original fees will have to be paid for the 2020 and 2021 academic years and an increase will be seen for 2021.
Due to students not having occupied accommodation for the full year, monthly payments can be reduced, “based on a payment regime that spreads out the agreed costs over the extended 2020 academic year”.
The same ruling will be in place for university accredited and registered private accommodation as far as possible.
The Department does say that, “wherever possible, institutions should facilitate agreements with providers on behalf of students to reduce the payments for periods of non-occupation, but with the full payment spread over the extended academic year.”
NSFAS Payments of Fees and Allowances
NSFAS will pay tuition fees of beneficiaries on the basis of the original tuition fee that was agreed upon.
The financial aid scheme will also pay university-owned accommodation fees at the original fee that was agreed upon.
Throughout lockdown, NSFAS has continued disbursing allowances to students. This means that students who are in private accommodation received their allowances to pay their rent.
The Department is currently planning for the additional costs NSFAS would need for the extended academic year but as of now, no funding has been approved or given for the extended academic year.
“The framework will also provide directives to officials of public higher education institutions to disseminate information and all applicable measures for implementation, to alleviate and contain the effects of the COVID-19 threat,” said Minister Nzimande.
The instructions and details given in the framework will help assist with any experiences of financial strain by institutions, NSFAS, private fee-paying individuals and private accommodation providers and shows that the Department is “recognising that the COVID -19 pandemic affects all groups in different ways,” said the Minister.
Minister Nzimande publishes the National Framework for tuition and accommodation fees for 2020 academic year in Public Higher Education Institutionshttps://t.co/ijM55Rtqdh
— HigherEduTrainingZA (@HigherEduGovZA) October 8, 2020
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