Minister Blade Nzimande Addresses NSFAS Developments

Minister Blade Nzimande Addresses NSFAS Developments

Minister Blade Nzimande Addresses NSFAS Developments. Today, I am addressing the media to provide an update on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) developments regarding the processing of student allowances.

Welcoming the New NSFAS Acting CEO

I would like to begin by extending a warm welcome to Mr Masile Ramorwesi, who is joining us for the first time as the Acting CEO of NSFAS.

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NSFAS’ Mandate

Let me remind everyone of NSFAS’s mandate. NSFAS was established in 1999 by the government to provide financial assistance to deserving beneficiaries seeking tertiary education.

NSFAS represents a significant effort by the government to address historical social inequality in access to post-school education and training, which has deep roots in our colonial and apartheid past.

Government Commitment to NSFAS

Since 1991, NSFAS funding has grown from R21.4 million to nearly R50 billion, supporting the education of children from working-class and low-income families in public universities and TVET colleges.

This substantial increase in funding reflects the government’s commitment to expanding access to post-school education and training.

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Transition to a Student-Centered Model

Another important milestone for NSFAS has been the transition to a student-centered model, where students apply directly to NSFAS for funding. This shift required significant resources and changes to NSFAS systems and processes, all of which the government has supported.

NSFAS Not in Crisis

I want to emphasize that NSFAS is not in crisis. It successfully serves the needs of the vast majority of poor students. It is the largest student funding agency in Africa and a unique scheme globally, as it fully funds students for their study, travel, accommodation, and personal care.

For the 2023 academic year, we are funding all qualifying students on the DHET bursary scheme who have been admitted to funded programs at public TVET colleges and universities.

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Efforts to Support Students

We ensured upfront payments to institutions to cover registration, tuition fees, and living allowances to help NSFAS beneficiaries register without upfront fees. We also implemented a 5% increase on all allowances and a 10% increase on the living allowance.

Addressing Challenges

As of January 13, 2023, NSFAS deployed staff to institutions nationwide to assist with funding-related issues and data exchange processes. We also directed NSFAS to improve its communication systems and responsiveness to student queries.

We issued a warning against improper benefits and called for legal action against anyone found defrauding the system.

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Student-Centered Model and Accommodation Portal

Over the past two years, NSFAS has made progress in implementing the Student-Centered Model. Initiatives like the NSFAS Direct payment solution and the NSFAS Student Accommodation Portal have been developed to streamline the disbursement of funds for tuition, transport, food, and accommodation.

Progress and Onboarding

We urge all beneficiaries who have not yet registered for the new payment system to do so urgently. To illustrate progress, here are the percentages of students onboarded by universities:

Universities onboarded 90% to 99%

  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology (96%)
  • Central University of Technology (92%)
  • Durban University of Technology (96%)
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology (95%)
  • Nelson Mandela University (97%)
  • Tshwane University of Technology (99%)
  • University of the Free State (93%)
  • University of Johannesburg (94%)
  • University of KwaZulu Natal (97%)
  • University of Limpopo (95%)
  • University of Mpumalanga (97%)
  • University of Pretoria (96%)
  • Sefako Makgatho Health Science University (96%)
  • Sol Plaatje University (96%)
  • University of Stellenbosch (90%)
  • University of the Western Cape (90%)
  • University of Venda (99%)
  • University of Cape Town (93%)
  • Rhodes University (96%)
  • University of Zululand (95%)
  • Vaal University of Technology ( 91%)
  • Walter Sisulu University (97%)
  • Universities onboarded 80% to 90%
  • North West University (84%)
  • University of the Witwatersrand (88%)
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Appointment of Direct Payment Service Providers and Bank Charges

An investigation into the appointment of Direct Payment Program partners is ongoing. Bank charges for student accounts are under review to reduce costs for beneficiaries.

Collaboration and Student Disqualification

NSFAS collaborates with government entities such as SASSA, SARS, and the Department of Home Affairs to verify applications. Student disqualification is primarily due to processing gaps, including hybrid applications, missing parental relationships, and latency data from HEMIS.

Appeals

178,426 appeals were received, with 63,331 approved and 8,528 rejected. Some appeals are invalid, while others require supporting documents. All appeals are being processed.

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Directives to the NSFAS Board

I’ve directed the NSFAS Board to:

  • Implement a modern ICT system
  • Review processes and allowances disbursement
  • Enhance governance and management
  • Establish a performance management framework
  • Improve stakeholder communication
  • Implement a 24-hour call center
  • Pursue legal action against fraudulent students

Board Appointments

To strengthen the NSFAS Board, I’ve appointed:

  • Prof Laurens van Staden
  • Prof. Ntombizozuko Dyani-Mhango
  • Mr Lucian Kearns (pending)
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Allowances Paid by NSFAS

For the 2023 academic year, NSFAS provides various allowances for qualifying students, including learning materials, accommodation, living, and personal care allowances.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we remain committed to transforming our post-school education system and ensuring access to government funding for all eligible students from working-class and low-income families. We are finalizing the Comprehensive Student Funding Model to further this goal.

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