Universities South Africa says if tertiary institutions have to foot the bill for the shortfall costs of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) funding and historical debt, this will result in further financial woes for universities.

The statement comes amid nationwide protests for an end to the financial exclusion of some students.

The South African Union of Students has reiterated that all 26 universities must be completely shut down until funding, historical debt and other issues are dealt with.

Universities South Africa CEO, Prof Ahmed Bawa, says tertiary institutions have resolved to cover the 2021 shortfall cost of Nsfas funding.

“The shortfall of funding for Nsfas has been resolved – although that will be at the expense of universities. The issue around student debt hasn’t been resolved. What we have decided, for this year, is that all 26 universities will use whatever instruments they have to try and address that issue.”

“What we are doing is basically kicking the can down the road and adding to the debt, if you like. The most recent figure is that debt has now ballooned to about R14 billion. That means money that should have been invested in the functioning of the university is now not available to the universities,” explains Bawa.

The video below looks at NSFAS funding systems for the 2021 academic year: