Funding crisis at DUT averted, for now

Students hoping to enrol as first years at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) next year could be in for a shock: they might not get funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to study there.

This is because the re-opening of the DUT campus on Monday — after its closure last week following fees-related student protests and police action — has come at a steep price: DUT has dug into its own pockets to ensure that no student who meets both DUT rules regarding academic progression and NSFAS criteria are excluded.

Mail & Guardian Education reported last week that the campus protests originated in students complaining that NSFAS funds owing to them had not arrived and that they therefore faced exclusion because they were in arrears on fee payments.

DUT acting vice-chancellor Nqabomzi Gawe said then that the university’s appeals to both NSFAS and the department of higher education and training had so far been fruitless and that it would cost DUT R35-million to pick up the debt burden itself.

This it has now done. But next year could see this decision biting for another group of students: “If no further funding is obtained from either NSFAS or the higher education department, there will be no funding for first-time NSFAS applicants,” Gawe announced in a statement over the weekend.

DUT management could not give M&G Education an immediate indication of how many students might be affected.

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David Macfarlane
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