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Nelson Mandela University is in the third week of the 2020 academic year, which is generally a very busy time at higher education institutions countrywide. Mandela University’s academic and support staff have been hard at work to ensure the start of the year runs as smoothly as possible.

The start of the academic year, however, is not without challenges and the University, through regular meetings with the Student Representative Council (SRC), has been pro-actively implementing solutions and addressing a range of issues as they arise.

A number of concessions have been granted to financially needy and academically deserving students in a continued effort to broaden access to higher education.

Financial Aid

A significant challenge that arises at this time of the year relates to student funding, which enables a number of processes such as registration, residence placement, the disbursement of allowances to funded students and so forth.

The University is aware of students who are still awaiting funding statuses or having difficulty accessing their financial aid allowances due to a number of reasons. While students may have been approved for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), there is still a verification process that needs to be carried out before they can be cleared for registration, following which NSFAS releases allowances.

As such, the University’s Financial Aid office is in constant liaison with NSFAS in a bid to address challenges and bottlenecks experienced by students in this regard.

As at Friday, 14 February:

  • 17 036 students had been granted funding statuses. This figure is set to increase as the University’s Financial Aid office reconciles lists with NSFAS; and
  • 11 557 allowances had been paid to NSFAS-funded students. This figure is also set to increase as the Financial Aid office inserts more statuses and as more students register.

University financial concessions

The University remains committed to ensuring that no academically deserving, financially needy student is denied access to higher education due to financial constraints. As such, the institution made available a number of concessions.

These include the rollover of student debt and the down-payment exemption – which enables a student to proceed to registration without making the upfront payment, and pay it off in the course of the year – to students who meet the following criteria:

  • Whose household income is less than R600 000 a year
  • Who are full-time admitted students for 2020
  • Who are first-year undergraduate students or admitted for their first postgraduate qualification
  • Who are South African citizens
  • Who are not currently prosecuted
  • Who have not been previously funded by NSFAS at other institutions (The Financial Aid NSFAS integrated status will indicate this)
  • Who are in academic n+2 progression (Non-qualifying students will be forwarded to faculties for academic evaluation)
  • Whose overall outstanding debt does not exceed the cost of the previous semester (All debt prior to September 2019 has to be settled). 

To date, the University has received 3577 applications for University financial concessions. Of these, 3 255 applications have met the financial concessions criteria. There is a verification process currently underway for the 322 unsuccessful applications.

NSFAS new applications

More than 600 students, who had not applied for NSFAS within the prescribed deadline for various reasons, were assisted with late applications and have since been granted funding statuses.

There are 433 returning students who have been assisted with provisional statuses, while awaiting the outcomes of their NSFAS funding appeals.


As at Monday, 17 February, a total of 25 371 students have successfully completed their registration since the process commenced in January. This figure is up by 1.4% compared to the same time last year and 4.5% since 2018.

This figure is set to increase, as more students are cleared for registration and make use of the late registration period, which ends on 28 February.

The University has made notable progress in admitting students from Quintiles 1 to 3 as compared to last year. This year, 12% of first time enrolments are from Quintile 1 schools, 9.7% from Quintile 2 and about 30% from Quintile 3. This is up by 4, 3.1 and 3.7 percentage points, respectively.

This figure is set to increase as more students are granted funding statuses and proceed to registration.


The University’s Student Housing office has been working to place students into their allocated rooms, as well as assist unfunded students with temporary placements while they await their NSFAS statuses and other financial aid outcomes.

So far, on-campus residences are full, while there are about 600 vacant beds at accredited off-campus accommodation establishments.

There has been significant progress made with regards to the construction of on-campus residences towards the planned 2000 beds, with George Campus nearing completion and North Campus having recently commenced.


The University is committed to assessing student transport challenges in liaison with student leadership.


Mandela University remains resolute in its commitment to ensure that every student admitted to the University is afforded the necessary support towards their access and success.  To this end, the University will continue its ongoing engagement with student leadership, with a view to responding to issues as they arise. 

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777