Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande. Picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Johannesburg - While more than R9billion has been paid out to more than 500000 students by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), about 28000 have yet to receive their allowances.

According to Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Blade Nzimande, this was the amount paid as of last month.

He also revealed that 28000 haven't been paid their allowances due to a failure to sign their bursary agreements or providing correct cellphone numbers for NSFAS wallet payments.

He revealed this in a written reply to a parliamentary question from EFF’s Ciliesta Motsepe.

Motsepe had enquired about the number of payments made by NSFAS to students at each campus by June 1.

“As at June 20, 2019, for the 2019 funding cycle, NSFAS had 565011 students on record that met the eligible criteria for funding and for which NSFAS received registration data for approved courses.

“Funds have been disbursed to 536848 students in the form of allowances, leaving 28163 students still to be paid," Nzimande said.

He gave the breakdown of unpaid students as being 22410 at universities and 5753 at technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.

A total of allowances were disbursed to university students to the tune of R7598580866 while 226376 allowances were paid to TVET college students, which amounted to R1468317082.

The figures show an improvement compared with disbursements last year when the financial scheme experienced challenges, including funding decisions, addressing the 2017 academic year backlog, the non-payment and delays in the payment of allowances and weakness in data integration between NSFAS and institutions.

In August last year, 65313 students had not signed their bursary agreements, but the figure dropped to 48103 in September.

On Sunday, South African Student Congress secretary-general Moipone Mhlongo said they commended the department for the quick payments this year.

“We want a system that is efficient, so that there should be no issues of payments by now,” Mhlongo said.

She also said some students wrote mid-year exams without allowances. “Its a problem and we need an improvement. There should be an efficient system where all students can get paid on the first of the month.”

EFF Students Command could not be reached for comment, and Motsepe declined to comment, saying party protocol barred her from making media comments.

Nzimande said the allowances of affected students at universities could be effected once their bursary agreements were signed. “NSFAS is liaising with institutions to assist in ascertaining whether the students still require funding or have received alternative funding support"

He said with regard to TVET students, NSFAS wallet payments could not be effected as cellphone numbers given at registration were incorrect or invalid.

Political Bureau