NSFAS System Is In A Much Better Space, Says Administrator

NSFAs showed up ready in front of Parliament for the second time to respond to allegations made by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union Trade union (NEHAWU) against the organisation, many being against the Administrator, Dr Randall Carolissen. 

NSFAs showed up ready in front of Parliament for the second time to respond to allegations made by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union Trade union (NEHAWU) against the organisation, many being against the Administrator, Dr Randall Carolissen.

The Administrator was joined by NSFAS Chief Operations Officer (COO), Nthuseng Mphahlele, who was there to further disproves claims laid against NSFAS. 

One instance discussed was that of the disbursement system in which Mphahlele said, "Colleagues were frustrated with the previous system as it was known to be very tedious. The process is now automated with no manual confirmation needed due to verifications and calculations being done on the system already."

NSFAS replaced their SBux voucher system in 2019 and rather used NSFAS wallet and started paying allowances into student bank accounts. Security measures were also improved with the latest system.

This, Mphahlele said, has reduced the turnaround times for funds being disbursed.

This disproves the allegation made which said that the process is not automated.

According to Mpahlele, previously, disbursements were done on a daily basis. Whoever submitted their application and was approved, would be paid. This has now changed. The COO then explained the current disbursement process and said that this further disproves allegations put forward by NEHAWU.

NSFAS disburses student fees and allowances to institutions and institutions then need to disburse it further to students.

NSFAS also said that they were able to give students funding decisions on the date specified by the Department when the Administrator was appointed which wasn’t seen in earlier years. In earlier years, students would have to wait months after the date given by the Department to hear their funding decisions.

Concerning the “hand of God’ allegations NEHAWU made concerning missing applications, NSFAS had a response to that as well. Thousands of applications were lost during the 2020 academic year. This, the COO, said is due to a process where in trying to remove duplicate applications, the system the removed the original as well.

To fix this, the code was corrected. Applications which were withdrawn were put back into the system and NSFAS says there is proof of this.

In 2021, there are just over 2000 applications which are indicated as withdrawn and the audit shows that those applications were withdrawn by the student and not with the hand of God as the case in the 2020 cycle.

Capacity has increased over the past four years at NSFAS due to optimisation of processes at the organisation. The current system will be replaced but NSFAS is said to be able to keep it running for another year or two.

Carolissen also strongly denied NEHAWU’s allegations that no improvements were made with the system saying:

Even though the system is not fit for purpose, we are in a much better space ... the system is able to handle the 700 000 beneficiaries and the system has been very stable in accepting new applicants.

NSFAS is now close to 500 000 applications for the 2021 academic year.

 

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