Recently the ​Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Doctor Blade Nzimande addressed the nation about the COVID-19 lockdown level 1 and what that means for studying in South Africa. Of particular note is talk of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

The 2021 application cycle for NSFAS opened on 3rd August 2020 and, as reported earlier, more than 160 536 applications came in by 31st August.

This first month saw 20 000 more applicants compared to the same period the previous year. On top of this NSFAS sees 5 500 applications coming in per day on average.

“The pattern we have been seeing with regards to applications received per province
remains interesting and intriguing as it has been consistent for the past three
consecutive years, where, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal, and Limpopo are leading with
the highest applications submitted,” stated Nzimande.

Nzimande adds that “major improvements and positive changes” have been seen in the North West, Mpumalanga and Eastern Cape, however.

But the big number here is 300 995. This, at the time of the address, is the total number of applications from students to NSFAS in the 2021 cycle.

With all these willing students comes the need for smart devices, especially as more universities move studying and examinations online to continue education through the pandemic.

On that front Nzimande states that 68 percent of NSFAS students will be supported to obtain laptops or tablets. A tender is in the works for this which received 140 bid proposals. The awarding of the tender will be announced on 31st October 2020.

We can only hope on the part of the students that this process goes through smoothly without corruption and the devices themselves are a decent spec to facilitate learning.

“NSFAS has conducted workshops and engagements with institutions and student leadership to spearhead the project, while the tender process is underway. Update project guidelines and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will be shared with institutions consensus,” Nzimande concluded.