File image: IOL.
Durban - Thousands of students whose applications for funding had been rejected by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) have been approved, following a directive for their applications to be reviewed.

Nsfas spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said the process of reviewing applications was under way and had been positive.

He said the review process was introduced by Nsfas administrator Dr Randall Carolissen, as one of the measures to ensure improvement in standards and quality in student funding decisions in general. He said this process was not available prior to his appointment.

“The success of this process has seen over 10 000 applications being unblocked,” Mamabolo said.

The review followed an uproar on social media after thousands of students were rejected for funding, with the institution being accused of rejecting applications on spurious grounds.

Some of the students were declined funding for mostly incorrect information about their financial circumstances.

“The appeal process will be introduced as the last option for students to request a review of their outcome for those whose final status will remain unchanged after second verification,” he said.

Mamabolo also warned students who are applying or have been approved for funding to be cautious as there had been incidents of phishing.

Nsfas announced on Friday that it would no longer communicate directly with students via SMS channels during the academic year.

It advised students to use the myNsfas online self-service portal to view application status or any other information relating to funding.

“Over the past two weeks, first-time applicants, as well as returning students, have been targeted in phishing email and text message scams that aim to compromise personal data. Nsfas identified scams in which fraudsters lure students into providing confidential information via a link to a site controlled by the attackers,” it said in a statement

“We have noticed the scam on social media, and we have also been alerted by students who were contacted. We realised there is a syndicate trying to defraud our students,” it said.

Nsfas added that the unidentified attackers are posing as Nsfas representatives and sending out emails asking students to update their account information by clicking on an embedded link.

“We are seeing an increase in fraudulent activities, possibly due to the increase in the number of applications for 2019,” said Carolissen. “We advise every student that Nsfas will never ask for your account details, password, pin or OTP over the phone or via email.

“Nsfas will only communicate with applicants and progressing students via the myNsfas online self-service portal or via the Nsfas contact centre,” he said.

The Mercury