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NSFAS Faces Criticism for Mishandling Student Funding

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NSFAS Faces Criticism for Mishandling Student Funding

NSFAS Faces Criticism for Mishandling Student Funding.Parliament Demands Accountability and Timelines for Appeals. In a recent parliamentary session, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was strongly criticized for wrongly defunding thousands of students, causing turmoil in the education sector. The portfolio committee on higher education has called on NSFAS to address the issue promptly and provide clear timelines for resolving appeals.

Outstanding Appeal Responses Raise Concerns

During the parliamentary briefing, MPs expressed their disappointment with NSFAS’s board members, led by chairperson Ernest Khosa, for the unresolved appeal responses. Over 14,000 eligible students were incorrectly defunded, leading to chaos within the education system. NSFAS had received a staggering 2,142,888 funding applications from both new and continuing students.

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Processing Gaps and Erroneous Applications

The problem stemmed from 45,927 records that were initially funded but later unfunded due to processing gaps. Additionally, 14,703 records were affected by hybrid applications, where continuing students mistakenly applied due to the transition from the old to the new system. Some students also applied for funding out of panic when they couldn’t see their funding statuses. NSFAS acknowledged the technical mishap and is collectively rectifying the situation for these students.

Addressing the Injustices

Acting Chief Executive Masile Ramorwesi assured that NSFAS was actively correcting the issue, vowing to fund all students who were unjustly rejected. Furthermore, NSFAS received 170,683 financial and academic eligibility appeals, with 58,924 successfully funded and 6,337 rejected. However, 28,971 appeals were considered invalid, consisting of withdrawn, deleted, and duplicated appeals. An additional 44,561 appeals depended on institutions to load results and applicants to upload missing information, while others were still in progress.

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Calls for Transparency and Accountability

Committee chairperson Nompendulo Mkhatshwa expressed her dissatisfaction, emphasizing the anxiety of students and parents. Mkhatshwa called for transparency and accountability in resolving the funding issues. She highlighted the trust deficit between NSFAS, the committee, and students. Concerns were also raised about students receiving incorrect amounts for allowances.

Clear Timelines Demanded

Ramorwesi stated that appeal matters would be concluded by the end of October. However, another board member cited the complexity of some issues, including appeals that could be appealed by students. In response, Mkhatshwa gave NSFAS two weeks to return with a clear deadline for resolving appeals and preparing for the 2024 academic year.

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Pending Funding Concerns

Meanwhile, Nkosinathi Sishi, the Higher Education and Training Director-General, expressed concern over pending student funding at various universities, including North West University, University of Fort Hare, Unisa, UWC, Stellenbosch University, and Wits. The unresolved funding issues continue to impact students’ access to education.

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