Over 120‚000 students are affected by NSFAS delays

14 June 2018 - 12:22 By Timeslive
Students walking outside the Great Hall, Wits University. File photo.
Students walking outside the Great Hall, Wits University. File photo.
Image: Sihle Maku

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says that at least 121‚974 students have been affected by a delay in the payment of allowances.

Of this number‚ 83% are university students‚ while 17% are Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students‚ the scheme said in reply to a Democratic Alliance parliamentary question.

Seventeen percent of the known payout delays have been as a result of students not signing their agreement forms‚ while 83% were due to “technical problems” in matching registration data for students.

DA MP Belinda Bozzoli called for the immediate establishment of an emergency student allowance fund by the Minister of Higher Education and Training‚ Naledi Pandor‚ to ensure that this problem of delayed payments is brought to an end.

She said NSFAS has noted that 12 universities and 11 TVET colleges have been disrupted and faced protest action since the beginning of the year‚ many as a result of NSFAS problems. In an attempt to deal with the situation‚ the Department of Higher Education and Training has made a number of upfront payments to universities and TVET colleges to help cover costs in the meantime.

But neither colleges nor universities are equipped to pay out grants accurately‚ and to the right students‚ she asserted.

"At TVET colleges‚ where living allowances are disbursed by the TVETs themselves‚ the Department of Higher Education and Training has 'requested TVET colleges to proactively identify all students in need of allowances and submit their details to the Department for intervention'. But NSFAS has not confirmed to them who the eligible students really are."

Bozzoli said: "The academic year has reached its halfway mark‚ yet students are still uncertain as to whether they will be given living allowances the next month or if their institution will be shut down by protest. This has a devastating effect on their academic studies... The NSFAS situation threatens to lead students to give up their studies."