A significant aspect of NSFAS’s support system includes providing NSFAS digital learning devices to eligible students. These devices are crucial in enhancing the educational experience by ensuring students can access essential online resources, connect with educators, and participate effectively in their academic communities.

Eligibility Criteria for an NSFAS Device

To qualify for an NSFAS digital learning device, applicants must:

  • Be a South African citizen or permanent resident.
  • Be enrolled in a public university or TVET college with NSFAS funding.
  • Pass a NSFAS Means Test and be approved for funding.
  • Demonstrate a confirmed need for a digital learning device.
  • Have not previously received a laptop or funds for one from NSFAS.
  • Submit all required documentation to NSFAS.

Related: List of Key Courses Funded by NSFAS

Benefits of NSFAS Digital Learning Device

1. Increased Access to Educational Resources

Enhanced Learning Opportunities: NSFAS digital learning devices unlock a treasure trove of educational materials. Students can access not only textbooks and lectures but also interactive simulations and virtual labs, which are particularly useful for STEM subjects. This variety enriches the learning experience and caters to different learning styles.

Customizable Learning Experiences: With these devices, students can customize their learning environments to suit their preferences and needs, which can include adjustable reading interfaces, text-to-speech options, and personalized learning paths. This adaptability is crucial for accommodating students with disabilities or those who require different learning approaches.

2. Facilitation of Online Assignments

Streamlined Learning Management: The devices allow seamless integration with learning management systems (LMS), where students can organize their coursework, keep track of deadlines, and have a central hub for all academic interactions. This centralized approach helps students manage their time and priorities more effectively.

Instant Access to Global Resources: Students can tap into global databases, online libraries, and international journals, which provides them with a broader perspective and access to information that may not be available in their local libraries.

3. Communication Tools

Enhanced Group Collaboration: Beyond basic communication, these devices enable real-time collaboration through tools like shared documents, virtual whiteboards, and project management apps. This facilitates more dynamic group projects and peer-to-peer learning.

Building Professional Networks: Students can also use these devices to participate in online forums, attend webinars, and connect with professionals in their field, helping them build a network that could be beneficial for their future careers.

4. Bridging the Digital Divide

Lifelong Learning: By providing devices, NSFAS not only supports students during their academic careers but also encourages lifelong learning. Access to technology can empower students to continue learning beyond graduation, whether for professional development or personal interest.

Support for Remote Learning: These devices are invaluable for students in remote areas, where they might be the only reliable means of continuing education, especially during disruptions like those experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Promoting Equity in Education

Data-Driven Insights for Educators: With widespread use of digital devices, educators can gather data on student engagement and performance, which can inform tailored teaching strategies and interventions. This ensures that support is provided where needed most, helping to lift students who are struggling.

Scalability of Educational Initiatives: Digital devices make it easier to roll out new educational programs and initiatives at scale, ensuring that innovations in teaching and learning can be quickly implemented across various institutions, benefiting a larger number of students without significant delays.

Related: 40 Websites for Young Professionals: The Essential Career Toolkit

Challenges and Solutions

1. Device Maintenance

Challenge: Maintaining the devices in optimal condition is often challenging, especially for students who may lack technical skills. Regular wear and tear or software issues can impede their functionality, affecting students’ learning processes.


  • Maintenance Workshops: Organize regular device maintenance workshops to teach students basic troubleshooting and care for their devices.
  • Maintenance Hotline: Establish a dedicated hotline where students can report issues and receive immediate guidance or schedule repairs.
  • Partnerships with Local Repair Shops: Collaborate with local repair shops to provide services at a reduced cost. This could include periodic check-ups, repairs, or software updates.

2. Internet Access

Challenge: Students residing in rural or under-resourced areas often struggle with inconsistent and unreliable internet connectivity, which is crucial for maximizing the utility of digital devices.


  • Mobile Data Subsidies: Work with telecommunications companies to offer discounted data plans or mobile hotspots to students who lack home internet.
  • Community Internet Hubs: Establish community-based internet hubs in strategic locations, allowing students to access high-speed internet for their academic needs.
  • Government Collaboration: Advocate for broader governmental initiatives to improve internet infrastructure in under-served areas.

3. Limited Technical Support

Challenge: Encountering technical problems can be a significant barrier, with students often lacking immediate access to expertise to resolve such issues.


  • Technical Support Teams: Increase the availability of on-campus and online technical support teams to assist students with hardware and software issues.
  • Comprehensive User Manuals and Online Resources: Develop detailed user manuals and online tutorials that guide students through common problems and maintenance tips.
  • Peer Support Networks: Encourage the formation of student-led tech support groups that can offer peer assistance and share knowledge on device management.

4. Device Theft or Loss

Challenge: The risk of theft or loss of devices poses a serious concern, as these essential tools are crucial for students’ educational success but can be high-value targets for theft.


  • Device Insurance: Provide or facilitate access to insurance policies that cover theft, loss, or accidental damage, ensuring students can replace their devices if necessary.
  • Anti-Theft Software: Install anti-theft software on all devices, which can help locate lost or stolen devices and potentially deter theft.
  • Secure Device Lockers: Implement secure locker systems in educational institutions where students can safely store their devices when not in use.

FAQs: NSFAS Digital Learning Devices

Q: What are NSFAS Digital Learning Devices?
A: NSFAS Digital Learning Devices are electronic gadgets provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to eligible students to support their academic activities. These devices are intended to help students access digital educational resources, submit assignments online, and facilitate communication with peers and instructors.

Q: How can students apply for a NSFAS digital learning device?
A: Students can apply for a digital learning device through their respective educational institutions. Most institutions have a dedicated NSFAS office or support center where students can submit their applications and required documents. It is also advisable to check the official NSFAS website for the most current application procedures and deadlines.

Q: What types of devices are provided by NSFAS?
A: The types of devices provided by NSFAS typically include laptops and tablets. The specific model and specifications of the devices are determined by NSFAS in accordance with the educational needs and standards deemed suitable for student use.

Q: Can I choose the brand or model of the digital device?
A: Generally, students do not have the option to choose the brand or model of the device. NSFAS procures devices based on specific criteria such as functionality, durability, and educational adequacy to ensure they meet the students’ academic needs.

Q: What should I do if my device is damaged or stolen?
A: If the device is damaged or stolen, students should immediately report the incident to their institution’s NSFAS office and local law enforcement if necessary. NSFAS typically has policies in place regarding device insurance and replacement under certain circumstances. Students should familiarize themselves with these policies to understand their coverage and the steps to take for replacing a device.

Q: Is there any support available if I encounter technical issues with my device?
A: Yes, NSFAS and educational institutions often provide technical support for devices issued under this program. Contact details for technical support can usually be found on the institution’s website or through the NSFAS support center. Students are encouraged to utilize these resources for troubleshooting and technical assistance to ensure their devices are functioning optimally.

Q: Can I keep the NSFAS device after I graduate?
A: The policy on retaining the device after graduation can vary depending on the institution and the specific terms set by NSFAS at the time of the device’s issuance. It’s important for students to check the terms of the device agreement to understand whether they are allowed to keep the device post-graduation.

In conclusion, the provision of digital learning devices by NSFAS is a positive development that aims to ensure that students have the necessary tools to engage in online learning. This initiative has the potential to bridge the digital divide and provide equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their socio-economic background.

However, it is important for NSFAS to ensure that the devices are of good quality, properly maintained, and that students receive adequate support and training to effectively use them for their studies. Overall, the provision of digital learning devices by NSFAS is a step in the right direction towards creating a more inclusive and accessible education system.