Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande has dismissed calls for the scrapping of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and rather distribute funds directly to higher institutions of learning.
Nzimande was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria on Tuesday after the Student Forum 4 Service Delivery marched to the department to hand over a memorandum of demands.
The Student Forum 4 Service Delivery is calling for NSFAS to be discarded and for funds to be transferred directly to universities.
NSFAS has been rocked by a series of scandals including leadership instability and the irregular awarding of four fintech companies to disburse student allowances.
“We’re saying to Blade Nzimande he must scrap NSFAS completely because it is an unnecessary red tape. In fact, NSFAS is chowing more from our students,” says SF4SD’ Nhongo Solo.
However, Nzimande says the NSFAS will not be scrapped.
“We do not intend to go back to giving money to institutions to then decide who gets funding, none whatsoever. We undertook an investigation some years ago and found that there was just a lot of corruption. That’s why we decided on a student funding mode, let students apply directly to NSFAS.”
The minister says they are trying to simplify the application process, but also called upon students to be honest.
“Please do not use this to take a chance because we are going to check, if you rob NSFAS we’re going to come for you. We really need to urge parents and students not to do that,” says Nzimande.
Funding applications for the 2024 academic year opened today and will close at the end of January next year.
Students who did not qualify or were rejected for funding this year are encouraged to apply. No supporting documents will be required during application as third parties such as SASSA, SARS and the Home Affairs department will be providing information to the scheme during the verification process.