Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says he was waiting for the final report on the direct payment of funds to students who are beneficiaries of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
This comes as a result of several recent protests by students at universities across the country who have been complaining and criticising the new direct payment system and its high charges.
Following the complaints and reports that alleged that the scheme’s CEO, Andile Nongogo, was involved in the laundering of the funds, he was placed on special leave to investigate the matter.
"I am currently awaiting the final report on the NSFAS investigations into the process of the appointment of the four direct payments programme partners following public allegations about the process of their appointment," said Nzimande.
"Concerning bank charges to student accounts, I have been briefed that NSFAS negotiated for a R12 monthly bank charge, which excludes money transfer costs to other banks. I have directed that NSFAS re-look at the entire bank charge regime to find possible measures to further reduce these costs for our beneficiaries," he said.
Nzimande was briefing the media on the latest developments in the scheme. The briefing also covered issues relating to the last allowance disbursements and issues affecting the management of the scheme.
However, he shot down reports that claimed that NSFAS disbursed incorrect amounts to beneficiaries, indicating that he was assured by the NSFAS board that the reports were misleading and untrue.
"Should it happen that such instances may have occurred, I urge the affected students to immediately report these to NSFAS," he said.
He stated that the new student-centred model, where students apply directly to NSFAS for funding, was the best.
Nzimande also said that NSFAS will continue its collaborative work with other government entities such as the South African Social Security Agency, the South African Revenue Services, and the Department of Home Affairs to verify all NSFAS applications for funding to ensure the correct processing of applications.