SIU Recovers More Than R700 Million In NSFAS Funding

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NSFAS money was meant to fund poor students but was not used for its intended purpose being recovered by the Special Investigating Unit. Millions of rands are set to be returned to the National Treasury. 

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The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has thus far recovered a total of R737,926,351 in its investigation into the affairs of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This sum comprises R688,220,611.56 in unallocated funds and signed acknowledgement of debt agreements totalling R49,705,739.60.

They explained that the unallocated funds stem from deficient control systems and reconciliation processes within NSFAS, resulting in uncollected funds from higher education institutions. Upon engagement by the SIU, these institutions cooperated, facilitating swift recovery.

Presenting its findings to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) on Wednesday, 7 February 2024, the SIU disclosed its progress in recovering funds from various institutions of Higher Learning:

  • West Coast College: R5,05 Million
  • Northlink College: R33,3 Million 
  • Walter Sisulu University: R19,9 Million 
  • Nkangala TVET College: R342,672
  • University of Johannesburg: R311,8 Million
  • University of Zululand: R58 Million 
  • University of Pretoria: R200 Million 
  • Majuba TVET College: R25,9 Million 
  • University of Mpumalanga: R33,6 million

Acknowledgement of debt agreements over R49,7 million was also reached with Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College in the Free State, as well as with parents and students who did not meet NSFAS funding criteria but benefited from NSFAS. 

The SIU's investigation uncovered NSFAS's failure to establish and enforce controls ensuring annual reconciliation between funds disbursed to institutions and their allocation to students. 

These control lapses resulted in over- and underpayments to institutions from 2017 onwards. NSFAS has engaged a service provider to assist in this reconciliation process, termed "close-out reporting," which is ongoing.

Additionally, the SIU discovered numerous "dormant" accounts on the Celbux e-wallet/voucher payment system dating back to 2018. This totalled an estimated R320 million.

Regarding NSFAS-funded accommodation, inadequate details such as physical addresses and landlord/owner information were absent from the NSFAS system. The SIU noted that NSFAS did not vet the physical addresses of landlords/owners.

The SIU is Authorised under Proclamation R88 of 2022 to probe allegations of corruption and maladministration within NSFAS and to recover any resulting financial losses. 

It may pursue civil action in the High Court or a Special Tribunal to rectify identified wrongdoing, including acts of corruption, fraud, or maladministration. 

Criminal conduct uncovered during investigations will be referred to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for further action by the Special Investigating Units and Special Tribunals Act 74 of 1996.

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NSFAS bursary

More than one million students are set to receiving funding from NSFAS over the next ten months. However, before these student receive NSFAS bursaries they are required to register at a university or a TVET College. 

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