The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has clawed back over R730 million in its investigation into the finances of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The funds were recovered from institutions of higher learning.
The unit presented its findings to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) in Parliament on Wednesday.
In its presentation, the SIU said the total figure included R688,220,611.56 in unallocated funds.
“The unallocated funds are due to poor control systems and a lack of reconciliation processes by NSFAS and were not collected from institutions of higher learning,” it said.
“When approached by the SIU, the institutions cooperated, which led to a quick recovery process.”
It said NSFAS signed an acknowledgment of a debt agreements of R49,705,739 with Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in the Free State, and with parents and students who did not meet the NSFAS funding criteria.
According to the unit, the scheme failed to put up control systems to ensure that there was an annual reconciliation between the funds disbursed to the institutions and the allocation of those funds to the students.
But it said that the institutions cooperated with them hence the speedy response.
“These control weaknesses have led to overpayments and underpayments of funds to the different institutions over the period 2017 to date,” it said.
“NSFAS has recently appointed a service provider to assist them in performing this reconciliation via a process called “close-out reporting.”
Furthermore, the SIU found that Celbux – the voucher payment system — had many “dormant” accounts that were lying active on the Celbux system dating back to 2018 amounting to an estimated R320 million.
Regarding the NSFAS-funded accommodation, the SIU found that details of the accommodation such as physical addresses and details of the landlord or owner of the accommodation were not captured on the NSFAS system.
The physical address of the accommodation and landlord or owner was not vetted by the NSFAS.
The SIU has so far recovered the following funds from institutions of higher learning:
– West Coast College — R5m
– Northlink College — R33m
– Walter Sisulu University — R19m
– Nkangala TVET — around R340,000
– University of Johannesburg — R311m
– University of Zululand — R58m
– University of Pretoria — R200m
– Majuba TVET College — R25m
– University of Mpumalanga — R33m