Varsities to get NSFAS offices – Blade Nzimande

2014-01-30 13:05

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The National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will open offices at all universities and further education and training colleges, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has said.

Addressing the media in Pretoria today, Nzimande said the fund would no longer be administered through the universities’ financial aid offices.

Currently, Nzimande’s office gets money from National Treasury and passes it on to NSFAS. The fund then divides and allocates the money to different universities and colleges.

But Nzimande said this would now stop as it was responsible for many of the problems experienced by the fund, which have led to protests across the country this week.

“Currently, there are no NSFAS offices in universities. Money comes from NSFAS to universities and we say to them: ‘Here is the money, do what you will with it.’ Universities will still do the admissions, but money will now come directly from the fund.”

He said universities’ financial aid offices distribute the funds as they wish, which may not be in line with the wishes of the higher education and training department.

Nzimande also said the fund’s turnaround strategy included a central application process for loans and bursaries. The fund has already started to pilot the new system, said the department’s director-general, Gwebs Qonde.

Nzimande raised concerns about registration and academic disruptions caused by protesting students at the University of Johannesburg, Durban University of Technology, Mangosuthu University of Technology and the Tshwane University of Technology – as well as the “agony suffered by new students”.

He said he had faith in the individual institutions’ ability to deal with the protest action.

The students protested, complaining about being excluded because of a lack of funds from NSFAS.

Nzimande said the funds could not cover every student, adding that those who performed poorly in 2013 would be excluded this year.

The fund’s budget for 2014 is R9 billion. About 430 students will benefit this year.

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