Nzimande Visits NSFAS Offices


Blade Nzimande, Minister of  Higher Education, Science and Technology, joined by Dr Randall Carolissen, NSFAS Administrator, sat down for a press conference at the NSFAS offices yesterday. NSFAS procedures, issues with historic debt and the ongoing issues with student accommodation were discussed and concern for student issues was shown.

Minister Blade Nzimande visited the NSFAS offices yesterday to receive briefing on the progress in the processing of payments for NSFAS students in 2020. In addition to addressing media, he visited the walk-in center where he assisted students with re-registering, informing applicants that they were successful in applying as well as being able to observe the operation of the call center and offices. Nzimande notes that there has been a big improvement in operations and said, "I'm going away here being a very happy Minister".

Nzimande saluted NSFAS on one of their biggest achievements, "in the beginning of the 2020 academic year, all applications that have been received between September and November last year have been dealt with and the applicants have been informed." There have been around 4000 appeals and more than half have already been dealt with and they expect to complete the rest in the coming days as well as having registration with all institutions to be finished by the end of February. NSFAS has received R1.7 billion worth of applications.

The Minister also discussed a Ministerial team to have the functionality of NSFAS be examined because, "one of the challenges that we are still facing is that the current system of NSFAS was announced on the 16th of December in 2017 to be implemented in 2018 and as a result of that, a lot of policy issues that should have been clarified and procedures, that should have been put in place, were not done." and they will seek to improve systems. 

When questioned about the R967 million that was paid by NSFAS to handle historic debt, Dr Randall said, "this was made available for NSFAS students that were in the system pre-2018 and it is subject to cap". Capped amounts incur when a student's education costs more than that which is available. R450 million has been paid to institutions so far and allowances have been sent out with them expecting to have all allowances distributed by next week. R3.6 billion has been paid to universities and R1.6 billion to TVET colleges.

NSFAS has also refined some of their criteria and Dr Randall in addressing this said, "where the claimed amount was less than the acknowledgement debt, that was a fair amount to pay out. Where it was close to the acknowledgement debt but slightly over, we will pay up to the acknowledgement debt to make sure to protect the fiscus."

R600 million has been paid for that and is said to be for the period until 2022 where all students who have incurred cap amounts will be sorted.

Of the NSFAS students pre-2018, roughly half a billion rand is collected every year from these students with the rule being that loans from pre-2018 are only paid when students acquire a salary that exceeds R30000 every month. From 2018 onwards, NSFAS changed their policy to have it no longer be a loan but rather a bursary offered to students. 

In addressing walk-ins, the Administrator stated that there were 130000 walk-ins from TVET colleges and walk-in totals for universities are still to be gathered and that half of these walk-ins have already been processed and the rest are to be processed by next week.

South Africa's accommodation issues persist. Government are taking steps to resolution and Nzimande stated, "we already have definitely secured 300000 beds over the next ten years". NSFAS has reviewed their norms and standards for student accommodation and have decided to take a pragmatic approach to solve issues as he said, "we don't want to punish students to go and fail because of preventable conditions". 








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