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The Department of Higher Education and Training has sent well wishes to all students at universities, Technical Vocational and Training (TVET) colleges and high schools, who are writing their final exams.

“For those in universities and at TVET colleges, final exams may represent the last hurdle before graduation or moving on to the next year of study. While for learners in matric they represent the finalisation of an arduous schooling journey,” the department said.

However, the department said it was concerned that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has noted a major decline in matric applicants for funding in 2017.

NSFAS Executive Officer Msulwa Daca recently said that more than 195 668 students have managed to visit the NSFAS website to register and create the "myNSFAS account" on the website.

He, however, cautioned that most applications were from university students.

Apply for funding

The department appealed to matric learners, who have not yet applied for funding to do so as a matter of urgency, as applications close at the end of November.

“Getting matric learners to apply who have not yet done so should be a national priority. Our nation cannot afford to lose out on thousands of talented matric learners who in time can go on to become the doctors, engineers, technicians and others that we need to move South Africa forward.

“It is our duty as concerned parents, guardians, aunts and uncles, and society at large to ensure that the Class of 2016 moves on to institutions of higher learning. This must further go hand in hand with the successful completion of the 2016 higher education academic year,” the department said.

Applications remain open for students, who are currently studying at universities and TVET colleges, not funded by NSFAS, as well as students who were previously funded by NSFAS but were not funded in 2016.

The National Youth Development Agency has agreed to assist NSFAS by availing the printed forms at all their community youth development centres in rural and township areas.

NSFAS is also working with the Department of Social Development through Isibindi Centres to distribute manual application forms at 263 community centres throughout the country.

Agents at these centres will assist people in completing either the online or manual application forms.

Forms are also available at more than 300 campuses of universities and TVET colleges.

NSFAS has also joined forces with Vodacom who have made available their 81 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) community centres around the country to assist learners with online applications.

The Vodacom centres are connected with necessary internet resources and learners wishing to apply for NSFAS will be granted free access.

“We are hopeful that these additional interventions will get the ball rolling. All that now remains is for first time students from the Class of 2016 to apply and make their dreams for a better life a reality,” the department said.

Tabling his Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced that an additional R9.2 billion has been allocated to NSFAS.

With this additional funding, the department said thousands of more students will be provided with the financial means to access education at all 26 public universities and 50 public TVET colleges. – SAnews.gov.za

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