NSFAS 2021 applications
(Getty Images)
  • Funding of Bachelor of Education (B Ed) and Bachelor of Nursing Science (B Cur) qualifications for first-time students will be halted, according to a notice published by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
  • The authenticity of this notice has been confirmed, but a final list of funded qualifications is still being devised in consultation with the Department of Higher Education and Training.
  • This comes as matriculants prepare to enter universities and adds to the strain already experienced by NSFAS’ application system.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

UPDATE: NSFAS will fund ‘legacy’ qualifications – but it’s complicated

Financial aid for certain university qualifications in teaching and nursing will no longer be available from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for first-year students.

The decision to defund the Bachelor of Education (B Ed) and Bachelor of Nursing Science (B Cur) qualifications was communicated in a circular notice sent to university registrars on 12 February, but prospective students have not been officially told yet.

The notice to universities, with a list of qualifications that have been effectively defunded, is authentic, a NSFAS representative confirmed to Business Insider South Africa, but refused to comment further. Meanwhile NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo is understood to be locked in meetings with various stakeholders.

A final list of qualifications NSFAS will fund can only be provided after "ongoing funding discussions with the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)", Nongogo said in the circular on pre-funding matters and DHET qualifications.

But for first time entrants (FTEN), NSFAS will not be providing funding for:

  • Any qualification that has the word National in its title
  • BTECH qualifications
  • Legacy two-year diplomas
  • Legacy NQF Level 8 qualifications
  • B Ed qualifications
  • B Cur qualifications
  • Bridging programmes

First-time entrants are those who have never been registered at any university in the system before and are entering university at an undergraduate level for the first time.

This does not include students who have studied through a Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institution. It also does not apply to students who have already started their studies.

While most of these qualifications have been phased out or readjusted as part of New Higher Education Qualification Sub Framework (HEQSF) implemented in 2020 – and have now been aligned with NSFAS’ funding model – the exclusion of B Ed and B Cur qualifications is likely to come as a surprise to prospective students who think South Africa to be in need of nurses and teachers.

NSFAS 2021 applications
NSFAS Circular notice
NSFAS 2021 applications
NSFAS Circular notice

Registered nurses in various disciplines feature on South Africa's new draft list of critical skills.

But the defunding of teaching and nursing qualifications was forewarned by the ninister of higher education, science and technology, Blade Nzimande.

“Too many students are rushing to courses that we are not short of in South Africa, [qualifications] which are oversubscribed,” said Nzimande, while detailing the readiness of universities and colleges amid the Covid-19 pandemic in November 2020.

“This is just breeding unemployment and we are still spending a good percentage of NSFAS money to support students who are not going to get jobs at the end of the day because they are in areas that are not in high demand… so students also need to look at this list.”

While NSFAS appears resolved to cut the funding of certain qualifications, other government-endorsed student grant and bursary systems will continue to support B Ed and B Cur studies.

The Funza Lushaka Bursary, offered by the department of basic education as a specialised subsidiary of NSFAS, is expected to absorb the bulk of prospective B Ed students. Like NSFAS, the Funza Lushaka Bursary is a free funding scheme and does not operate on a loan model which would require students to repay their tuition fees. This scheme, aimed exclusively at B Ed and Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) qualifications, is accepting new applications until 28 February.

The Funza Lushaka Bursary does, however, have a different set of criteria compared to NSFAS – including a Level 4 pass rate in specialised subjects – and concerns around the whether the bursary has the funds to support all B Ed students have also been raised.

Previously, NSFAS has supported the bulk of B Ed students and the Funza Lushaka Bursary has advised of limitations, urging prospective students to “pursue other funding opportunities”.

Similarly, the department of health offers bursaries for B Cur qualifications and a host of other critical health science fields. Application deadlines, however, vary according to provinces with some registration windows already closed.

UPDATE: NSFAS will fund ‘legacy’ qualifications – but it’s complicated

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