Unpaid NSFAS Allowances Leave Students Stranded At Campus

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The festive season normally entails enjoying a well deserved rest surrounded by friends and family. However, some students at a North West university are stranded at campuses as unpaid allowances from NSFAS left them with no money to get home. 

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Some students at the North West University (NWU) say the National Students Financial Aid Scheme’s failure to pay November 2024 allowances has left them stranded on campus during the festive season. Due to the unpaid allowances, students say they can’t make travel arrangements to go home and do not have any money for food. 

The academic year at tertiary education institutions concluded at several higher education institutions over the last month. When the academic year comes to an end, students who live in campus accommodation are required to vacate their accommodation. 

Approximately 1300 students at the North West University Mahikeng campus have been unable to do this due to unpaid NSFAS allowances for November and December. 

NWU management says they are yet to receive an official response from NSFAS explaining why NSFAS allowances are late. 

As of the latest update close to 1,300 NW students are still awaiting allowances for November 2024 and furthermore the December 2023 allowances expected on the 1st of December were not dispersed 

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries to students at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges in South Africa. These students receive several allowances to cover the costs associated with their studies.

South African Students Congress Provincial Secretary Paseka Molete described the situation at the university as a mess. They say some students have not received any allowances since November 2023.  

These students have not received their funding since November you can imagine how they wrote their examinations, what food have they eaten? December they have not even received anything

Molete explains that students use NSFAS allowances to purchase food, toiletries and even to travel home when the academic year concludes. Unpaid allowances prevent them from doing this. 

The provincial secretary says they are trying to raise some money which will assist stranded students to travel home. 

In 2022, NSFAS implemented a direct payment system at (TVET) colleges. The direct payment system was expanded to include universities in 2023.

Molete says they’ve attempted to get answers from the service provider contracted to distribute NSFAS allowances at the university, however, this has been to no avail. 

We've written so many other letters to the NSFAS, to the minister of higher education, as well as this company that was appointed corruptly, Norroco, to ask why what is the delay why is it students, our students not receiving their due diligence in terms of allowances

Stranded Student

Student Thandolwethu Dlamini says he has not received allowances from NSFAS since May 2023. They say the university’s efforts to assist students travel home is ineffective. They say buses procured to take students home have not returned to transport the remaining students. 

Dlamini says students should be given money so they can make their own travel arrangements. 

Maybe, at least try to give us maybe the money for us to get home. If it's going to be R500 give us R500 so we can get home…the bus system is not, is proving to be effective by now the bus left but still it has not returned. 


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Nzimande talking about NSFAS

While plans are in place to fund students who fall into the missing middle, the higher education minister suggested that funding should be based on the programmes students are enrolling in. This could have an impact on students who are not enrolled in programmes that are considered scarce-skill programmes. 

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