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  • Government has just gazetted new directions that determine that students may not pay more for tuition and accommodation due to the extra-long academic year
  • The academic year is only expected to end in 2021.
  • Students should end up paying the agreed amount for 2020, even if they stay in accommodation until the end of March 2021.
  • For more articles, go to www.businessinsider.co.za.

On Monday, government gazetted new rules that determine that South Africa’s students must not end up paying more for tuition and accommodation because the academic year will be extra-long.

According to the government gazette, the 2020 academic year is likely to only be completed in the first part of the 2021 calendar year.

From October 1st - for the first time since March - all students have been allowed to return to campus. They can occupy 50% of university residences – up to a maximum of 250 people indoors at a time.

Government has now issued directions that while the academic year will now only end in 2021, students should not pay more in tuition or accommodation than they would have if the year ended at the normal time.

In terms of tuition fees, the 2020 academic year is as a "package" regardless of its length, government says.

“This means that the cost for tuition should remain at the same level for the 2020 academic year regardless of the time frame for a student to complete and the mode of delivery for completion.”

The same goes for accommodation fees

“The cost for university owned accommodation remains at the same level for the academic year, regardless of its length, capped to the end of March 2021. This assumes that while there will be periods of non-occupation, most students will return for a period of time to complete the academic year.” This implies that universities may not charge students extra if they stay in residences until March – this must be included in 2020 accommodation fees.

This should also apply to private accommodation providers – specifically those who are accredited with universities, and registered as student accommodation, the gazette reads.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has continued to pay allowances to its beneficiaries during lockdown, but will only settle the accommodation allowance up to the agreed costs for the ten months of the academic year.  

“It is therefore expected that NSFAS beneficiaries in receipt of accommodation allowances must continue to pay private accommodations providers in terms of their agreements with lease providers, in line with the framework agreed to reduce monthly payments and spread the cost over the 2020 academic year.”

While the gazette notes that there is currently a process underway to plan for any additional academic year costs for NSFAS funded students, “currently no funding has been allocated or approved for additional academic year costs in 2020”.

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