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“We are working tirelessly to resolve student allowance payment challenges” – says NSFAS

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By Ragheema Mclean

The funding provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is a crucial component of the academic journey of millions of students across the country. However, challenges facing the scheme could be detrimental for vulnerable students.

The government’s bursary scheme has once again received backlash from several stakeholders regarding student allowance payment delays for the month of November 2023.

NSFAS provides students with various allowances each month, which include accommodation, meals, and learning material allowances. Without these allowances, students often face the risk of hunger and even homelessness.

As a result, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) has criticized the scheme for the way it has handled delays in the payment of allowances, citing that students were left high and dry as they could not make ends meet.

Speaking on VOC Breakfast Wednesday morning, SAUS Secretary General Lukhanyo Daweti said that the scheme notified SAUS that the challenge of non-payment of the student allowances was due to administrative glitches by institutions.

He explained:

“When we followed up with NSFAS, they indicated to us {SAUS} that the challenge was in two folds. This occurred due to incomplete data submission from the institutions in terms of registration data, leading to a delay in the reconciliation process from their side.”

“These challenges also came as students were writing exams, which has disturbed them as it is a very difficult period and students can’t focus on empty stomachs.”

A new direct payment system introduced this year has seen challenges affecting both students and the scheme. Daweti stressed that students should not suffer in the middle between NSFAS and institutions.

“The majority of students rely on these allowances, and not receiving them during the exam period takes away from their ability to excel academically.” He added, “We want to see an effective NSFAS scheme, especially considering the number of students depending on the organization.”

Meanwhile, NSFAS spokesperson Slumezi Skosana attributed the payment delays for November 2023 to a data adjustment process and various system glitches.

“The payments are being done through the system, but there are certain areas where different administrative and technical glitches have occurred at various institutions,” he explained.

Skosana said these technical glitches often affect the operation of the entire payment system. He further affirmed that the bursary scheme is diligently working to address all issues related to allowance payments.

“We are working very closely with NSFAS and the institutions to ensure that these data exchange processes do not affect the allowance disbursement process.”

He said the board and executive management team are working tirelessly to alleviate all the current challenges faced by the scheme.

The NSFAS board were given three weeks to submit a comprehensive report on service delivery aspects to Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande.

VOC News

Photo: NSFAS

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