Cape Town - Sizwe Nxasana has been appointed as the chair of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced on Wednesday.Nxasana, the outgoing chief executive officer of financial services group FirstRand, will serve on the board in a non-executive position until August 31, 2019.He has brought a wealth of experience and expertise, said Nzimande.“His experience in the financial sector, as well as his background as a chartered accountant, makes him the ideal person to lead the NSFAS to address its challenges and deliver on its mandate.”The minister said there are a number of short-term goals.“The first is to ensure that we have learnt the appropriate lessons from the pilots we are doing now on the student-centric model.”This model, piloted at 11 higher-education institutions, involves a central process for students to apply directly to the NSFAS for loans and bursaries.The second is to put in place an effective strategy to collect all monies owed to the scheme.Loan recoveries from student debtors have decreased significantly from R372.3m in 2013/14 to R261.2m in 2014/15.Scheme’s functioningNzimande said the plan over the medium-term is to improve the scheme’s functioning and to look at other revenue models.“The expectation is that NSFAS should not be relying only on money given to it by government. There is a lot of space for other people who are willing to support education.”He said Nxasana is perfectly placed to reach out to the business sector for this purpose as part of addressing the gap between available funds and students who need assistance.A total of R9.5bn was allocated to the scheme in 2015/16. Loans are recovered only once the student is employed and earns at least R30 000 a year. Interest accumulates on the loan a year after graduation.Nxasana takes over from Zamayedwa Sogayise, whose term recently came to an end.Nxasana served as the Telkom CEO from 1998 to 2005. He holds several honorary doctorates and was recently awarded the Doctor of Accounting Science degree from Walter Sisulu University for his contribution to the growth, development and transformation of the accounting profession.He is the co-founder of the National Education Collaboration Trust.