The recent decision by the National Financial Aid Student Scheme (NSFAS) to defund students has caused significant repercussions in universities, leaving many students in dire financial situations. In the midst of the academic year, thousands of students find themselves without the financial aid they rely on as NSFAS withdraws funding from those who were mistakenly provided assistance as reported by the SABC News.
In response to this crisis, universities are coming together to launch fundraising campaigns to assist the defunded students and those falling under the “missing middle” category – students who do not qualify for full financial aid but still face financial challenges.
The University of Pretoria (UP) has initiated a fundraising campaign, encouraging students to contribute as little as R10. Now in its second year, this campaign has made a substantial impact, benefiting students like accounting sciences student Lebohang Baleni. Baleni underscores the significance of such efforts, sharing the plight of former classmates who had to abandon their studies due to financial constraints. He believes that supporting someone’s education transforms their life and has broader societal implications, as they are more likely to give back and help others in need once they graduate.
The funding shortfall has put immense pressure on students, prompting many to contemplate putting their studies on hold. Naledi Maduma shares her distressing experience of almost dropping out due to the financial strain of undergraduate fees. Thankfully, she received external funding assistance to continue her education.
However, universities are not only focusing on individual cases; they are mobilising efforts to aid all defunded students. The University of Pretoria, for instance, has set an ambitious target of raising R100 million over the next three years to address the funding gap. So far, they have managed to secure R13.2 million since commencing the campaign a year ago, primarily focusing on supporting the “missing middle” students.
While some universities can leverage resources to assist their students, it is evident that disadvantaged institutions face greater challenges, potentially leading to students having to abandon their studies without achieving their qualifications. As the full impact of the defunding situation unfolds, universities are steadfast in their efforts to bridge the financial gap and ensure that students can continue pursuing their educational goals. This is crucial for the individual students and the development and progress of society as a whole.
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