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FRIDAY BRIEFING | The Unraveling of NSFAS: A Critical Examination



FRIDAY BRIEFING | The Unraveling of NSFAS: A Critical Examination

FRIDAY BRIEFING | The Unraveling of NSFAS: A Critical Examination. Originally designed as a sanctuary for disadvantaged students, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was allocated a substantial budget of R47.6 billion in 2023, aimed at assisting 1.1 million students. However, the reality has been far from this idealistic vision.

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Issues in NSFAS

NSFAS has followed the familiar path of many government-run institutions, falling short of expectations. Alarming irregular expenditure figures, a revolving door of leadership changes, and major gaps in financial controls have characterized its operations.

Struggling Students

Even students who met the R350,000 means test for funding have been deeply affected. The NSFAS accommodation allowance is capped at a mere R45,000 annually, while the food allowance stands at just R13,100 per year. This has pushed many students into debt and, in some dire cases, left them hungry.

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Uncertain Futures

Compounding these issues, the recent removal of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo amidst a R47-billion payments scandal has raised significant concerns. A Special Investigating Unit (SIU) inquiry has revealed nearly R5 billion in wrongful payments to students who didn’t meet the grant qualifications.

Exploring the Breakdown of NSFAS

In this edition of the Friday Briefing, we delve into the unraveling of NSFAS and the implications it holds.

Insights from Bongekile Macupe

Bongekile Macupe, who extensively covered education matters before becoming News24’s deputy politics editor, reflects on the numerous instances of mismanagement at NSFAS since its inception.

Dr. Seán Mfundza Muller Perspective

Dr. Seán Mfundza Muller, affiliated with the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Johannesburg, warns of the repercussions of failing to address the issues plaguing NSFAS. He emphasizes the potential destabilization of the higher education system that relies on NSFAS for support.

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Potential Solutions

Wits University’s Dr. Bernadette Johnson and University of Johannesburg’s Professor Mondli Hlatshwayo propose viable solutions that could replace NSFAS, offering a path toward resolving these pressing challenges.

The urgency of finding a solution cannot be overstated, as it is ultimately the students who bear the brunt of this unfolding debacle.

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