This article first appeared in the 27 June 2022 edition of the Cape Argus newspaper.
Cape Town - Duplicate tertiary registrations do not work in the favour of students applying for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding, with applications rejected as a result.
Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande held a media briefing on Friday, June 24, providing an update on NSFAS and challenges faced by tertiary education and training institutions.
One of the major challenges faced by public universities and TVET colleges for students applying for NSFAS, was students registering at multiple institutions.
In such a case, NSFAS can’t pay because NSFAS doesn’t know which institution is the genuine one that the student is actually registered with.
“Students must be advised on the importance of maintaining one institution where they are registered and to cancel whatever registration they might have made at other institutions,” Nzimande said.
“The total value of registration student data or information received and therefore funded is R33.5 billion and this marks a total commitment of 87% of funds allocated to NSFAS that needs to be distributed.”
At the beginning of the year, the department announced NSFAS would receive an additional budget and R47.3 billion was subsequently allocated to cover both TVET college and public universities.
For the 2022 appeals cycle, NSFAS received at least 40 000 appeal applications.
“NSFAS reviewed and processed 28 000 of those and communicated the outcomes,” Nzimande.
Approximately 12 000 appeals could not be processed by NSFAS because no supporting documentation was attached and submitted as required.
As of May 30, 2022, a total of R7.2 billion had been paid to universities to cover all allowances including books, transport, accommodation and living allowance for 498 942 students studying at universities. NSFAS has also paid R2.8 billion to TVET colleges covering tuition and allowances for approximately 200 000 students.
NSFAS has confirmed funding for 691 432 students for 2022 with 462 983 female and 227 072 male students.
“Now this is a game-changer by NSFAS, and a game-changer in terms of hugely increased participation of women in our university system,” Nzimande said.
Nzimande said he had been inundated with complaints around student accommodation, particularly around evictions by landlords, and said NSFAS would be taking a proactive approach from 2023.
During 2020 and 2021, NSFAS spent an average of R11.9 billion per annum on student accommodation funding.
“One of the most persistent complaints that I have received is the timely payments of allowance for student accommodation and unscrupulous syndicates who are seeking to defraud students of their allowances. We are getting closer to that.”
Working with the SA Revenue Service (Sars) and the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), students benefiting illegally through falsifying information and documentation would be dealt with, with the department looking at opening criminal cases against these students.
“It’s beginning to worry me that senior professionals and managers who are working well and earning well whose kids are beneficiaries of NSFAS. They are thieves, those people.”