The African National Congress (ANC) has raised concerns about the governance issues within the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) that resulted in student allowance payments being delayed.
ANC's secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said the scheme had to prioritise the needs of students timely.
"It is essential for NSFAS to prioritise timely payment for living expenses, transportation, and accommodation for students," Mbalula said.
He addressed a post-NEC briefing on the outcomes of the NEC meeting at the party’s headquarters, Luthuli House in Johannesburg on Thursday.
NSFAS has been under scrutiny and criticised by students and citizens for its failure to disburse students' allowances on time.
During the briefing, Mbalula said they had engaged with Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to ensure that this was dealt with to avoid their ability to support students.
The ANC commended the allocation of R3.8 billion towards a comprehensive student funding model that targets students from the "missing middle" segment.
The ruling party further welcomed the allocation of R4.2 billion aimed to facilitate the registration process for students, ensuring a smooth start to the 2024 academic year.
However, to strengthen the capacity of the state, Mbalula said the ANC advocated for centralised payments for all state disbursements including NSFAS.
He stated that the approach would benefit the scheme from the experiences of organisations like SASSA and the post office in disbursing grants.
Mbalula said the government should also take responsibility for ensuring that students have suitable accommodation.
"The state should take responsibility for the construction of suitable infrastructure by exploring the human settlement model and utilising existing resources in the public works sector," he said.
He added that departments can also collaborate to establish state-owned accommodation.
"This approach is crucial as neither the market nor the private sector prioritise or resolves the student accommodation crisis due to profit motives.
"This is crucial for a long-term and comprehensive higher education plan to account for projected increases in the number of successful matriculants concerning available spaces in higher education institutions," he said.
He hoped for a good start of the higher education academic year.