SRCs from various universities up in arms over NSFAS direct payments

Students protesting against NSFAS newly implemented direct payment system. Picture: Supplied.

Students protesting against NSFAS newly implemented direct payment system. Picture: Supplied.

Published Aug 3, 2023


Johannesburg - Student representative councils from various universities who are up in arms about the newly implemented direct payment system by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be convening to map out a plan of action should no solution come forth.

The latter comes after hundreds of students from the University of Pretoria (UP), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), and the University of Limpopo clashed with the police yesterday after students converged outside the offices of the Department of Higher Education and Training in Pretoria.

Students had initially gathered at the Union Buildings but decided to take their grievances regarding the alleged shoddy work of third-party operators that were awarded the responsibility of issuing student allowances starting in June 2023 to Minister Blade Nzimande.

The Scheme appointed four service providers to disburse funds to universities and TVET colleges, namely eZaga, Coinvest, Tenetech, and Norraco.

However, in just a month students have decried the appointment of the service providers, whom they alleged were inexperienced, had exorbitant banking charges, and in some instances delayed the payment of their allowances.

Keamogetswe Masike, the SRC president at TUT, alleged that students had, following a sleepover at the Union Buildings yesterday, opted to open a case of fraud against NSFAS with Pretoria central police.

Masike said they had also spent most of the day outside court in support of 15 students who were arrested for public violence during yesterday's clashes with the police.

He said that although the students had been released, they were awaiting the response from the Office of the Presidency after they managed to submit their memorandum.

"We've spoken to management, we've reached out to NSFAS, and we have even appealed to the minister with no results, so we are left to wait and see if the president will take our pleas seriously."

Njabulo Sibeko, the SRC president at UP, confirmed that students had managed to submit their memorandum of demands and grievances about the challenges with the direct payment system to the president.

Sibeko said the officials at the Presidency had indicated that they would respond in seven days; however, while they awaited the response, student leaders from various universities were organising a meeting to map out the way forward.

Sibeko said that students were unhappy with the new directive, which forced them to get new bank cards, and, more worryingly, some students had not received any allowances at all.

He said while NSFAS had been alerted to the challenges students were facing with the Tenetech service provider, there had been no persistence from the scheme to resolve the issues.

Sibeko said that in some instances, students were being told they would have to use R6 000 for the next few months going forward, while other students were defunded with little warning from the scheme.

The Star