Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has urged institutions of higher learning to only enrol the number of first-year students they are able to accommodate.

He was responding to the Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command’s pending court application in which it challenged Nzimande’s instruction to the University of South Africa (Unisa) to reduce this year’s first year student intake by 20 000.

The court has reserved judgment in the matter.

Nzimande says institutions of higher learning shouldn’t exceed the number of students they will be able to handle.

He says, “One, it means then we’ve got to take money from other institutions to support those who have gone beyond the limit that they have actually been set. Secondly, it means we’ve got students who are beyond the capacity of the institution that we had agreed upon. It was very unfortunate for Unisa for two years in a row to decide to enrol more students. All we said to Unisa is that we need to correct that. We can’t continue to be doing this.”

 EFF Student Command Council challenges the exclusion of first-year students at Unisa:

Social Security Agency grant

Meanwhile, Nzimande says children who benefit from the Social Security Agency grant automatically qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) grant when they turn 18-years old.

However, he says a person who is already a NSFAS beneficiary, does not necessarily automatically qualify for the R 350 temporary social relief distress grant.

This follows reports over the weekend that NSFAS has excluded some people from receiving grants.

Nzimande says, “If you receive any type of grant from government you don’t qualify for R350 including NSFAS students. NSFAS students are already receiving assistance from government for purpose of their studies. Therefore, you can’t be getting NSFAS grant and be getting the R350. The R350 is not meant for those. It’s meant for those who are unemployed who are not receiving any other form of a grant or assistance from government. So there is no exclusion.”

Minister Nzimande hosts a media briefing on funding decisions for 2021: