The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has recovered more than R700 million of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funds from various institutions of higher learning across the country.
The unit made the announcement yesterday as it provided an update to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) on the progress of investigations looking into the financial aid scheme.
According to the state’s anti-corruption agency, a total of R 737 926 351 was recovered, the majority of which came from unallocated funds at R688 220 611.
The remaining R49 705 739 was recovered through signed acknowledgement of debt agreements reached with beneficiaries.
The unit’s Kaizer Kganyago said investigations into the affairs of the financial aid scheme had so far revealed that the large volume of unallocated funds were as a result of poor control systems and a lack of reconciliation processes, which led to funds not being collected from the institutions.
Despite the poor systems, Kganyago said the institutions, however, had co-operated with the unit fully when approached.
“Investigations revealed that NSFAS failed to design and implement controls to ensure that there is an annual reconciliation between the funds disbursed to the institutions and the allocation of those funds to the students.”
The failure in control systems which dates back to 2017 was, according to the unit, what led to the overpayments and underpayments of funds to the different institutions.
The unit managed to recover the funds from nine institutions including R311 892 088 from the University of Johannesburg, R200 000 000 recovered from the University of Pretoria, as well as just over R33 million from the University of Mpumalanga and Northlink College.
Encouragingly, the financial aid scheme had reportedly already appointed a service provider to assist it in performing the reconciliation through a process called “close-out reporting”, which remained ongoing.