The government will make R4.5-billion available to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to provide short-term debt relief to students, the Presidency said.

A presidential task team appointed to investigate university funding found that the NSFAS shortfall was R4.5-billion. The task team recommended that R2.5bn of the amount be made available from the fiscus for loans to students who had been inadequately funded over the 2013 to 2015 academic years.

A further R2bn was required to ensure that current unfunded students received support from NSFAS during the 2016 academic year.

President Jacob Zuma, in October, announced that there would not be a university tuition fee increase for 2016 after students across the country protested the proposed fee hike. The students also demanded that student debt to be cleared and called on the ANC to make the promise of free education a reality.