Students condemn NSFAS rule
SCORES of students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds say the National Student Financial Aid Scheme’s (NSFAS) N+ rule is further disadvantaging them and may see many needy students, out on the streets.
More than 200 disgruntled university students alleged “NSFAS has lost approximately R2 billion due to erroneous payments. They now sit with a cash-flow problem and as part of cutting costs, they are illegally excluding students”.
The N+ rule is not based on the number of years that a student has been funded, but on the number of years that the student has been registered at any tertiary institution of higher learning in South Africa. This means that if a student has transferred from one public university to another, regardless of whether they were funded by NSFAS at the first one, the number of years already registered for the qualification will be counted as part of the N.
Sabelo Mtyana, a bachelor of public administration and political science student at the University of Fort Hare, studied at Cape Technikon between 2001 and 2004.
“I could not complete my diploma in office management and technology because of health reasons. In 2010, I registered again at Unisa, again, financially I could not cope and I dropped out. Although none of the years was funded by NSFAS, they are considered as part of the N+2 years (which means not more than two years’ funding). NSFAS should keep their contractual agreement which we signed in 2018, which is to fund me until completion of my degree, as long as I continue to pass,” said Mtyana.
NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen explained: “Upon receipt of registration data from institutions several verification processes and quality checks are invoked. This process is applicable to all institutions, to ensure that the registration data received undergoes rigorous quality checks as per DHET (Department of Higher Education) rules and guidelines. NSFAS has access to a national database of student enrolment across the sector, this allows NSFAS to run data against the database before funding could be finalised,” he said.
“With the improved efficiency of NSFAS we are able to track students across the system irrespective whether they move from one university to another,” added Carolissen.
Earlier this week, NSFAS refuted claims by the DA that the entity was in a process of writing off R1.96 billion in student’s historic debt.
Carolissen said the R1.96bn referred to was part of the R7.5bn irregular expenditure. He said the historic debt fund was not fully used because “not all the identified students applied for the debt relief for various reasons, including that some had found alternative means to pay their debts”.