More than 40 000 students have been defunded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This was revealed by NSFAS board chairperson, Earnst Khosa in a media briefing on Monday.
NSFAS held a media briefing on Monday afternoon to update the public on the current state of affairs at the financial aid scheme with Khosa taking the opportunity to address concerns around the defunding of students.
Khosa explained that NSFAS has faced challenges in the past whereby students who did not deserve to be funded received a bursary from the scheme. This prompted the scheme to improve its verification checks to ensure only deserving students receive funding.
NSFAS teamed out with third-party entities to assist with the verification of student information. These entities include the South African Revenue Service (SARS), state security agencies and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
These partnerships have proven to be fruitful in helping NSFAS make informed decisions
This aimed to prevent students from submitting outdated, falsified or fraudulent data to illegally receive funding from NSFAS.
NSFAS then sought to re-evaluate applications whose funding have been approved. This revaluation found that some students who are receiving funding were not deserving.
They submitted falsified documents or fraudulent documents and these had to be instantly defunded as continuation of knowingly funding individuals who do not meet funding requirements would be going against the provisions of funding policy whilst depriving deserving students.
Khosa says that 45 987 students were affected by these actions.
Universities South Africa (USAf) has said that "the defunding of students in the middle of the academic year has caused challenges for the students and the universities."
NSFAS has provided neither the reasons for the revocation of student bursaries nor a mechanism of appeal for the defunded students. Those students who have tried to reach NSFAS have been unsuccessful.
The organisation continued to say that this is a source of frustration among students and staff alike, and is also contributing to the instability at universities.
NSFAS has acknowledged that mistakes can happen when such actions are taken and said they are communicating with the students who have been affected student. If mistakes were made on the part of NSFAS, the onus rests on the student to submit supporting documents and prove they are deserving of the NSFAS bursary.
Khosa concluded that NSFAS are dealing with appeals with extreme care.