File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

NSFAS aims to streamline mechanisms to enhance application portals for students

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published May 19, 2021

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Cape Town – In efforts to deal with tertiary student funding decision delays, that have resulted in protest action at institutions every year, the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be enhancing its application portals.

This will allow students to get real time answers on whether they are eligible for funding, said NSFAS chief executive Andile Nongogo.

Nongonso was speaking at a media briefing in Wynberg yesterday, where the new NSFAS board of directors addressed Parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science, and Technology about their challenges and plans to turn around the entity.

Among the issues they faced, Nongonso said, were delays in funding decisions, appeals processing, disbursements, weak query resolution mechanisms, and an organisational structure that is not aligned to the student centred model.

For the months since the academic process started, the board has distributed R7.6 billion to universities and R15 billion to TVETs. This includes tuition fees and allowances.

About 1 263 671 students have been assessed as eligible for funding, 712 428 being first-time entry students, and 551 243 being continuing students.

“Regarding the student centred model, we have commissioned an application system and process that will make real-time funding eligibility decisions – appeals will be immediate for new students and, for continuing students, a new appeal portal will be introduced in the second semester, which will assist in timely decision making,” he said.

As exams are around the corner and some students are still waiting for laptops, Nongogo said about 60 000 devices are expected to arrive, while 4 600 have already been assigned.

Chairperson of the portfolio committee Mohlopi Mapulane said since the new board was appointed, they had not received a single complaint from staff members and were satisfied with efforts to date.

“For us, this means the entity is starting to stabilise. During the appointment of the administration, we received a lot of complaints from unhappy staff members. In one of our engagements, we heard the experiences of several senior officials, who spoke under oath.

“As the committee, we decided to institute an inquiry to investigate all of the claims that were made but, after the board was appointed we engaged with it.

’’We came to the conclusion that we will give the board space to follow up on all the complaints that were raised. We will support them,” said Mapulane.

Cape Times

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