The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it is working on improving its system as students across the country continue to protest on issues, mainly around funding.

NSFAS Administrator Randall Carolissen says there are still a number of students who owe the universities millions of rands.

While NSFAS covers all the debt of eligible students, there is still a large amount of students just above the threshold of the body who owe universities about R9 billion.

Carolssen says, “The other problem that we have is students that don’t meet the academic progression criteria, who are also protesting. We can’t keep on funding people who don’t progress, so that is quite a problem. There is also a problem of the quantity and quality of accommodation and the fact that students don’t have access to decent accommodation. So there is a systemic approach that we are working on but the system was terribly broken.”

Students say other grievances include alleged corruption at universities and accommodation issues.

Meanwhile, in Johannesburg a small group of students were protesting on Wednesday morning at Wits University over accommodation.

About 50 students embarked on a protest at the Empire Road entrance, where they attempted to block vehicles from accessing the campus.

Students are demanding free accommodation to be provided by the university.

Security has been beefed up to ensure that the protest doesn’t flare up once again and so classes continue as normal.

Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel says, “The University has made available about R17 million for 2020 through the wits hardship fund for students who are in genuine need of accommodation and funding…”

Patel says the students who are protesting, many of them have failed repeatedly and have lost funding and accommodation for this year.