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Nelson Mandela University remains steadfast in its commitment to social justice. As such, for the past several weeks, the University has been actively working to address the myriad of access-related issues in a bid towards as smooth a transition to the 2021 academic year as possible.

The dominant issues are those pertaining to the prevailing national funding challenges. Through its various committees and task teams, including the Student Enrolment Management Committee (SEMC) that is inclusive of student representation, Mandela University has been dealing with the issues affecting current and prospective students.

The University is aware of the growing anxiety because of the impending close of registration on Friday, 16 April 2021, and remains committed to assisting qualifying students, who may still be facing challenges for reasons beyond their control, to register and begin their 2021 studies.

Since the countrywide student protests broke out earlier this year because of funding challenges, the enrolment numbers have been on an upward rise at Mandela University. In parallel, and in order to facilitate wider access, financial challenges that affect students’ ability to register for the 2021 academic year, continue to be addressed.


To date, 27 324 students registered for the 2021 academic year, of which 7 287 are first year students. Of the first year students, 5 620 are first time entering students, which is just 700 short of the targeted 6 320 students.

The University wishes to assure all qualifying students who are in the pipeline for registration that they will proceed with registration. Those students who are unable to register by Friday, for various reasons, can be assisted with registration on a case-by-case basis, thereafter.

Aware of the challenges that some students have faced with regards to funding, a late registration fee waiver has been granted to all qualifying students who register by 16 April 2021. The University is encouraging students to register as soon as possible and partake in the ongoing academic activity.

Financial Concessions

As part of the suite of institutional efforts towards ensuring that no academically deserving, financially needy student is denied access to higher education due to financial constraints, the University has made available a number of concessions since 2016.

For the 2021 academic year, applications received for the University’s financial concessions were at a record 6 958, of which 5 621 have been cleared for registration. In previous years, the University has dealt with about 3 000 concession applications.

More than 500 students’ applications for concessions were denied for reasons relating to qualifying criteria. The University is presently auditing the rejected applications against the set criteria.

For students who have not yet applied for these concessions, an extension has been granted to 08:00 am Thursday, 15 April 2021. Applications can be made via

Financial Aid appeals

The University’s Financial Aid Task Team - which comprises Finance, Student Life and Development, and Academic Administration – continues with the financial aid appeals.

Book allowances/laptop initiative

Book allowances will be paid to all students that have been confirmed for funding by National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Through the institutional laptop initiative, which was launched in 2018, NSFAS-funded first year students have been granted an opportunity to use a portion of their NSFAS book allowance to secure their own laptop. The cost of the laptop is payable over two years, and students can choose to opt-in to this opportunity.

This initiative continues in the 2021 academic year, and students who have had a portion of their book allowance held back in lieu of the laptop are free to opt out if they so wish. The University has committed to paying out full book allowances to those students who do not wish to participate in the laptop offer.


Academic Administration will continue liaising with Faculties concerning academic appeals. Higher Certificate (HC) level students facing challenges with registration because of an outstanding module, for example, will have their cases escalated to the Faculties for a final decision around concurrent registration.

University processes allow for concurrent registration where a student has to complete just one outstanding module of the Higher Certificate. This is being processed on a case-by-case basis through the relevant Faculty Management Committees. NSFAS, however, does not make funding provision for concurrent registration.


The University is hard at work to accelerate finalisation of the aforementioned interventions and wishes to be allowed to effectively focus on these over the next few days. Students who still have outstanding issues are free to approach the SRC, which will in turn escalate it to the relevant offices.

In line with its commitment to social justice and widening access to those who would ordinarily not gain admission to higher education institutions, Mandela University encourages agency among its students.

As such, the University is continuously partaking in active and ongoing engagements with student leadership on any issues that may pose a threat to this commitment. The University thus reminds students of the engagement protocols in place to address any issues, before embarking on a protest and possibly disrupting operations.

In our continued efforts to collaboratively seek solutions to challenges affecting the University’s stakeholders, in particular our students, it is important to safeguard the integrity of the institution.

In this vein, the University has a standing commitment to engage the SRC on any matters pertaining to the advancement of the interests of its students.

Nelson Mandela University Management

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777