Nzimande concerned over slow pace of student accommodations at Fort Hare University

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Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he is concerned about the slow pace of accommodating students at the University of Fort Hare in the Eastern Cape.

According to the university’s student representative council (SRC), more than 1 200 students have accommodation challenges on both the East London and Alice campuses.

Most students at the university heavily depend on the National Financial STudent Aid Scheme (NSFAS)  for allowances.

Nzimande has requested a report from both NSFAS and the university.

SRC member at the university, Sandiso Mbulawa, has accused the Higher Education Department of dragging its feet in addressing the matter.

“The students continue to suffer because the issue of accommodation could have been resolved earlier on. We have also been writing to NSFAS on this matter for the minister’s approval.”

The university says that it’s doing all it can to resolve the matter, including paying students’ accommodation from its reserves while engaging NFSAS.

Higher Education Department Spokesperson Ishmael Mnisi says: “Minister Nzimande has not received any letter from NSFAS nor from the University of Fort Hare on the matter of private accommodation on allowances for funded students. The minister has requested the university and NSFAS to furnish him with the said request with details and on the said request which seeks his approval.”

In May, disgruntled students who claimed to have not received their NSFAS allowances from the university since the beginning of the year embarked on a protest.

Nzimande said the students who were protesting are a minority from programmes that NSFAS stopped funding.

“Many of them who are receiving the very same NSFAS funding that is making it possible for them to continue with their education, that there are instances where there may be challenges on when and how the allowances are received must not detract from the fact that these students are actually receiving allowances. Some of the students who are protesting I am made to understand are those who are in programs that are no longer supported by NSFAS as per our policy of government.”

Minister Nzimande also committed to building a new library at the university.

In the report below from May 2021, students embark on protest over allowances: