Government employees who gained their university degrees through State funding must pay back the money they owe to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS)‚ says KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu.
“I have discovered that there are over 15‚663 employees in our departments owing NSFAS over R400 million‚” he said at the opening of the Provincial Executive Council Lekgotla in Durban on Wednesday.
“This is a serious matter that I have put forward for discussion by all members of the executive council.
“Those who benefitted must do the honourable thing and pay back the money because there are thousands of students who are battling under these difficult economic conditions‚” Mchunu said.
Outstanding debt to NSFAS totals R21 billion - which would‚ at current university fee rates‚ pay for the fees of one million more students.
In the past financial year‚ the student aid scheme was able to recover only R248-million.
Beneficiaries of NSFAS loans are meant to start repaying their debt once they start earning R30‚000 a year.
Mchunu called on the private sector to also encourage their employees to pay back their NSFAS loans. “We believe that this will go a long way towards turning around the situation.”
He said the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government was committed to implementing youth empowerment initiatives.
“Over the past five years the provincial government has spent more than R1.5 billion on bursaries awarded to needy students. The accumulative number of students that have benefited from the bursary programme over the past five years is more than 7‚000.”
The funding focus was on scarce skills such as engineering‚ science and technology‚ accounting‚ information technology‚ agriculture‚ health and social services‚ the premier said.