08/16/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 08/16/2018 08:49
Parliament, Thursday, 16 August 2018 - The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training was briefed on National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) allowances at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and raised serious concerns about non-payment of funds to students in the third quarter of the 2018 academic year.
The briefing follows the committee's own inquest in the same matter, whereby 80% out of all universities and TVET colleges provided the committee with information about the state of affairs with regard to the NSFAS funds allocation and challenges.
The committee wanted information with regard to the dates in which upfront payments were made to universities and TVET colleges by NSFAS in the 2018 academic year, amount received and percentages.
The Chairperson of the committee, Ms Connie September, said that although they are backlogs from 2017 academic year, the committee has been able to establish that payments were indeed made to Universities and TVET colleges in the first quarter of 2018.
'The report of our inquest has painted a comprehensive view on the challenges facing the institutions of higher learning with regard to NSFAS allocations, including ICT systems inefficiency, funding of students with disabilities, integration of systems and poor communications and data verification,' said Ms September.
The Chief Executive Officer of NSFAS, Mr Steven Zwane, has attributed many of the backlogs to the student-centred funding allocation system which was later found not to be fit for purpose. He said that the lack of clear Service Level Agreements between NSFAS, Universities and TVET colleges also posed a serious challenge.
Ms September has thanked the South African Union of Students, South African College Principals Organisation and South African Further Education and Training Students Association, as well as other role players for participating in the briefing and committing to assist in addressing the challenges.
She said that NSFAS and the Department of Higher Education and Training should know that government is in the business of improving the lives of the people, therefore they should embrace the ethos of paying the right fund to the right student at the right time.
The department said Minister Naledi Pandor will appoint the Administrator in terms of the NSFAS Act to take over governance and management of NSFAS from the current board, in order to improve the current funding system.
'We welcome the intervention by the Minister to halt the process for NSFAS applications for 2019. NSFAS has not closed off the 2017 academic year and there are still outstanding payments to universities. We also welcome the plan by the Minister to appoint the Administrator to take over governance of NSFAS and to ensure that the entity delivers on its mandate,' said Ms September.
The committee will continue to monitor progress by the department and NSFAS in addressing the challenges raised, including the NSFAS systemic challenges.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING, MS CONNIE SEPTEMBER.
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