Students funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will receive their laptops on 18 April 2021.
This follows a mandate from the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande.
The financial scheme says students are now able to order their digital learning devices online.
“As previously communicated, NSFAS has developed a student Digital Learning Device Online Order portal for qualifying NSFAS students to order their devices on the NSFAS website,” said NSFAS Chief Corporate Services Officer, Sibongile Mncwabe.
The issue of digital devices at higher learning institutions escalated in 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic broke out and schools as well as institutions of higher learning were forced to switch to online learning.
At the beginning of the year, NSFAS announced that it had a shortfall of funds due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19 shock.
At the time Nzimande said even with the Covid-19 crisis, the department had to continue paying NSFAS allowances – even though universities were closed.
“This means we had an extended academic year which we did not allocate additional money for. Secondly, we had budget cuts across government departments. Thirdly, because of the deteriorating economic situation, were many NSFAS applicants who were not previously meeting the funding requirements for NSFAS now do,” said Nzimande at the time.
Inside Education reported that the NSFAS shortfall has since been funded through the reprioritising of voted budget funds in the department.
Mncwabe said non-NSFAS funded students who require a device should consult their institutions as they will remain responsible for the payment of the device.
“Consultations with the university sector have neared completion allowing university NSFAS funded students to commence ordering their devices through our portal,” said Mncwabe.
The financial aid scheme says it will communicate further with students in the next week.