Nzimande has attributed the increase to the impact of COVID-19 on jobs.

“We expect this number to increase quite substantially as past experience has shown that it is in the last two weeks of the application cycle when some students tend to apply in greater numbers. Rough estimates suggest that there will be over 800 000 new applications for the 2021 application cycle by the closing date at end of November 2020. This increase also is as a result of retrenchments and loss of jobs or income due to COVID-19.”

Most of these applications are from KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Limpopo and social grant beneficiaries.