Student Leaders March To NSFAS Offices Over Funding Concerns


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Students from a number of universities across the country marched to NSFAS offices in Cape Town on Wednesday to raise concerns about the financial aid scheme. They vowed to barricade the offices if their concerns were not addressed.


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More than 100 students and Student Representative Councils (SRCs) from at least 14 institutions marched to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) head offices, saying that officials have failed to respond to their funding concerns.

The march follows series of protest action from a number of institutions this month over allowances and other issues.

Students expressed, “We are here due to the incompetence of NSFAS...They are playing chess with our students, and they are not responding to our students’ appeals." 

University of Free State SRC deputy president, Tsephang Bambo said they arrived early on Wednesday morning after spending 13 hours on the road travelling to Cape Town.

The students that are here they are struggling…they haven’t even received their meal allowances let alone accommodation allowances and learning materials.

The students went to hand over a memorandum of demands to NSFAS officials, raising several concerns and issues that they want addressed.

Some of their other grievances include the appeals progress, the student accommodation cap, the NSFAS 60 credit funding conditions and funding statuses.

However, their main concern was the direct payment plan in which NSFAS took full control over, paying student allowances via third-party companies.

Students say they have voiced their objection regarding the new payment method throughout engagements NSFAS officials but have not received responses from the scheme.

NSFAS Bank Account

Last year, the bursary scheme revealed that it would no longer pay student allowances through institutions but would introduce a Mastercard System which would see beneficiaries receiving their allowances via a direct payment system.

NSFAS partnered with Coinvest, Tenet Technology, eZaga and Norraca to distribute student allowances via the NSFAS Mastercard.

While the direct payment system has only been rolled out at TVET colleges, university students are also set to onboard the system as of 1 June 2023.

Students in the TVET college sector already raised several concerns and frustrations as they've faced challenges with the new system. They claimed that they experienced system glitches, exorbitant bank service fees and fraudulent withdrawals were made from their accounts.

UCT SRC president Hlengiwe Dube stressed:

We vehemently reject the introduction of the tender system in the payment of students. We demand an immediate end to NSFAS direct payment system and for institutions to continue their payment system to students.

Meanwhile, at the budget vote on Wednesday, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande went on to praise the bursary scheme and its new direct payment method.

Nzimande says the new bank account system will bring several benefits to students and is expected to improve the efficiency, convenience, and security of financial aid disbursements to students. 

 

Suggested Article:

Nsfas bank account system

As of the start the 2023 academic year, thousands of NSFAS beneficiaries have been receiving their monthly allowances using the NSFAS bank card. However, students have already raised concerns as they've faced challenges with the new system.






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