NSFAS Bursary Applications and Rejections
NSFAS Appeals Backlog Addressed Urgently Minister Nzimande Update. Each year, numerous students seek financial assistance through NSFAS’s comprehensive bursary program. However, not all applicants meet the eligibility criteria, resulting in thousands of funding applications being rejected.
Minister Nzimande Addresses 2023 NSFAS Appeal Delays
Higher Education Minister Nzimande recently provided an update on the delay in resolving 2023 NSFAS appeal outcomes during a briefing on Tuesday.
Criticism Over NSFAS Student Appeals Handling
NSFAS has faced criticism for its handling of student appeals, particularly in light of a growing backlog of appeals. Earlier this month, the Parliamentary Committee for Higher Education expressed concerns about this backlog.
Appeals in September
The Committee emphasized that dealing with appeals in September, as students approach their final examinations, is problematic, as it means most of the academic year has passed.
In the current academic year, the NSFAS online application portal received a staggering 1,131,419 applications, with 156,700 of these coming from Sassa beneficiaries.
Appeal Numbers and Types
Nzimande disclosed that the scheme received a total of 178,426 appeals from disqualified students. Of these, 30,712 were deemed invalid appeals, while 41,438 required external dependencies, such as document submissions. An additional 20,908 appeals awaited supporting documents.
The department collaborates with Home Affairs and the South African Revenue Services to verify all NSFAS funding applications to ensure accurate processing.
Defunded Students and Appeals
Nzimande noted that 20,530 students were defunded because the Department of Higher Education and Training and institutions reported that these students did not make academic progress. However, these students submitted NSFAS appeals to assert their passing status. NSFAS must now verify this information with the institutions, which has led to processing delays in 11 institutions.
Swift Resolution Assured
The minister stated that 11,248 of these appeals are currently under evaluation, with assigned case workers processing the applications. Nzimande emphatically concluded, “All these appeals will be attended to urgently.”
Nzimande Update on NSFAS Direct Payment System Investigation
NSFAS Investigations into Payment System
Nzimande revealed that he was awaiting the final report of NSFAS investigations concerning the appointment process of the four companies responsible for disbursing allowances to students through a direct payment system. This appointment process had sparked controversy and public allegations.
Companies Under Scrutiny
The companies in question are Tenet Technology, Coinvest Africa, eZaga, and Norraco Corporation.
CEO Leave of Absence
Furthermore, Nzimande mentioned that NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo had taken a leave of absence amid allegations related to his conduct in awarding bids at NSFAS. These allegations were reminiscent of corruption allegations from his previous work at Services SETA (SSETA).
Independent Legal Firm Investigation
An independent legal firm, Werksman Incorporated, has been enlisted by the NSFAS board to investigate these allegations against the CEO and to review procurement systems and processes. The investigation is currently underway, and Nzimande stressed that Nongogo’s leave of absence was not an admission of guilt but a measure to allow for a thorough investigation.
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