Student unrest continues to mount as NSFAS remains mum on delayed payments

Student unrest continues to mount as NSFAS remains mum on delayed payments. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Student unrest continues to mount as NSFAS remains mum on delayed payments. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Apr 10, 2024


Discontent from students and service providers at some South African universities and TVET colleges has continued to mount as the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) continues to struggle to clear suppliers’ debt and pay student allowances on time.

Cries from students yet to receive their allowances from the financial aid scheme have continued to surface across multiple social media platforms, with student protest action witnessed at some institutions.

Against this background, the DA Youth in KwaZulu-Natal visited a number of institutions, especially within the province, to observe the ongoing strikes and significant challenges within various educational institutions.

Among those were the University of Zululand (UniZulu), Umfolozi TVET College, and Amajuba TVET.

The DA Youth said it had noted that students at the institutions had not received their NSFAS allowances, including funds allocated for essential academic materials such as books.

Sthabelo Ntshangase, the DA Youth KZN chairperson, said at UNIZulu, a considerable number of students had been unfairly defunded, while others, although funded, had not seen their allowances reflect in their accounts.

Ntshangase said the situation had resulted in significant disruptions to students’ academic pursuits, as the lack of student funding had forced students to compromise on their accommodation, resulting in some residing in dangerous and unsafe places, opening them up to potential attacks and theft.

Similarly, students at Umfolozi TVET College, have yet to receive their payments, alongside, the college’s kitchen staff who have not been paid for months, leading to dwindling supplies and an inability to adequately cater to students’ needs.

“We refuse to remain silent. It is imperative that the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) take urgent and decisive action to alleviate the hardships faced by students and ensure their right to quality education is upheld,” he said.

Last week, suspended Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) SRC president Keamogetswe Masike, said many students were complaining about how they were now struggling to get access to their allowances since the return to 3rd-party service providers.

In a viral video, Masike claimed he was expelled from the university after he refused to be silenced after NSFAS resumed the services of the four service providers fingered in corrupt activities.

“They have lied to students and misled the nation pretending as if they are solving the issue yet, they know that they are in bed with these service providers. There’s no termination.

“The direct payment through eZaga and other service providers is back and our students are waiting to receive their allowances through these dodgy banks once again. I was expelled because the minister is directly involved and NSFAS is failing to resolve this matter.”

One of the service providers, eZaga, has however come out to explain that it was not at fault in delaying the payment of student allowances, and also threw the aid scheme “under the bus”.

“eZaga Holdings, one of the four fintech providers selected by NSFAS, is aware of the delay in the disbursement of the April NSFAS funds.This delay is due to an issue on the side of the NSFAS and is not related in any way to eZaga.”

The company assured students at the University of Limpopo and the Tshwane University of Technology, that despite the hiccup, eZaga remained fully committed to honouring the payment of students as soon as NSFAS resolved the matter and released the payments to them so that they can pay students.

“We understand the inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience and understanding during this time. Our team is closely monitoring the situation and will keep you updated on any developments.”

An accommodation accreditation agent, who requested to remain anonymous, said the situation was no better for them as some of them had been waiting for payment for up to a year from NSFAS.

The agent said the company they worked for was one of 39 companies awarded a tender to accredit accommodation, however, the company had not been paid for a year.

“We’ve been hearing excuses from March last year after we accredited our first batch. At first they say to us they are waiting for the online system and after that it’s been excuse after excuse not to pay us.

“We were promised payment come October 6 but that came and went.

“We only received a small payment in January, however, that was not even 10% of what was owed to us.

“I am owed over R250 000 and have borrowed money from friends and family to the extent that my car was repossessed three months before it was fully paid off, it’s terrible I can’t live like this anymore,” they said.

Numerous attempts have been made to reach out to NSFAS spokesperson, Ishmael Mnisi, on the delayed payments and challenges experienced by students, however, no response has been furnished thus far.

The Star

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