Pandor wants Nsfas to get its house in order

Naledi Pandor
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Higher Education and Training Minister, Naledi Pandor wants the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) to get its house in order.

She has instructed Nsfas to fully integrate its application systems with those of Universities and TVET colleges by the end of the year.  The Minister addressed the media in Parliament Tuesday morning.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) Minister is now stepping in to help Nsfas get its house in order.

“The DHET will ensure that Nsfas systems are effectively integrated in to the colleges and university systems and that Nsfas staff works closely with financial aid offices at institutional level to address any problems. Every single delay has a real effect on students, on their ability to access accommodation and food, books and ultimately on their ability to succeed,” says Pandor.

The Department says R9.8 billion has been allocated for free education this year. This will cater for close to 460 000 students.

Funding is expected to peak at R35 billion in the 2020/2021 financial year. But the challenge is verifying who qualifies for free education.

Chairperson Nsfas, Sizwe Nxasana says: “Very often institutions say we’ve sent you data but that data they have sent is not just the data of Nsfas qualifying students. We’re still going through a whole process of making sure that the data they sent is the data of qualifying students.”

“There are challenges. There are institutions that have submitted information and it has gone missing and this is something we need to acknowledge,” says the higher education minister.

CEO of Nsfas Steven Zwane  adds:”There are thousands of students in the same model that we’ve been able to successfully pay. There have been some challenges in terms of information reaching us and that sometimes delays our ability to pay students directly. All those issues that the minister has mentioned we are dealing with them together with the department.”

Meanwhile, Pandor has appealed to students to ensure that they have signed their bursary agreements as soon as possible.