An investigation into the business processes at NSFAS is set to take place after R100 million was paid in 2013 towards configuring IT systems within the organisation. These IT systems were found to be weak and inadequate four years later and caused huge delays.
Higher Education Minister, Blade Nzimande, said that these faulty processes within the systems at NSFAS were happening since 2017 and has resulted in students not receiving funds or confirmation on whether they are being funded by NSFAS. NSFAS has seen many issues with releasing funding decisions due to these IT problems.
This investigation will last for a period of six months, which will overlap the period in which NSFAS will have new leadership. The current Administrator at NSFAS, Dr Randall Carolissen, will also be ending his term during this time in August. Minister Nzimande has said that he would have preferred the investigation to have been completed before Carolissen finishes but this is not possible.
Government has spent lots of money on implementing IT processes yet problems still arose, says Nzimande. This saw a disconnect between NSFAS data and data from Universities and TVET Colleges, which will also affect NSFAS new method of sorting through N+ appeals.
During the six months of investigation, system failures will be looked at and from there, the Department will look into what can be done to fix these issues for both the short and long term.
In a briefing between Nzimande and the Portfolio Committee, DA's Shadow Minister of Higher Education, Belinda Bozzola, stated, "I'm just wondering whether the whole NSFAS scheme, which was from the beginning not sustainable and was always too expensive for a poor country like us, needs to be looked at and the whole thing needs to perhaps be scaled down". Nzimande however agreed and believes that South Africa, through innovation, can see success in managing NSFAS.