NSFAS is responsible for student allowance delays - DUT

2018-03-28 15:33
DUT students are threatening to shut down the institution if management does not resolve the ongoing staff strike over salaries soon. (Supplied)

DUT students are threatening to shut down the institution if management does not resolve the ongoing staff strike over salaries soon. (Supplied)

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Taking a firm stance on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) delays, the Durban University of Technology said the disbursement of bursary allowances was solely managed by the NSFAS office.

"The DUT officials' responsibility is limited to collecting, collating and submitting information. DUT has submitted all the required information following stipulated NSFAS guidelines."

DUT said its management was committed to working closely with the NSFAS team, after it was announced that a high-level delegation planned to meet with the university on Wednesday and Thursday.

READ: Students angry over NSFAS funding take protest to Durban streets

This follows violent protests by around 200 students unhappy over unpaid NSFAS allowances at the Steve Biko campus.

In an urgent communique on Wednesday, the university said that students who were aggrieved over the ongoing NSFAS funding delay could finally get answers.

"Yesterday, DUT Management engaged the chairperson of the NSFAS board and the CEO about the main challenge. We have been assured by the chairperson and CEO that on [March 28 and 29], an NSFAS senior management team, with decision-making powers will be at DUT."

The university said the NSFAS delegation would be "accompanied by additional technical staff, towards resolving all identified problems".

The university said it regretted the student protests that resulted in property damage and disruption of classes.

SRC president Siphephelo Mthembu told News24 that about 6 500 students had not yet received their allowances, for things like food and books, since January.

Mthembu said they had decided to protest after students were given "an assurance" last week that they would get their allowances before the end of last week, which had never happened.

"So, we took a decision last Tuesday that, if we don't get the money at the end of the week, we would protest today. The protest was a result of last week's resolution," he said.

Mthembu said the aim of their protest was to put pressure on university management "so that it can put pressure on NSFAS to give us our allowances".

Meeting with management

University management, including Vice Chancellor Thandwa Mthembu, had since met with the SRC.

DUT spokesperson Alan Khan confirmed that Mthembu had engaged with two senior NSFAS management members with decision-making responsibilities.

In a statement sent to News24 on Tuesday night, NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said the organisation had paid in excess of R1.93bn to institutions across the country by the end of January.

This covered student registration fees, books, and other essential allowances to universities, Mamabolo said.

"The payments amount to at least 13% of provisional allocation for 2018, which each institution may get from NSFAS.

"In addition, further disbursements of allowances were made to students at universities that are using sBUX, such as DUT," he added.

He said this was done in February 2018.

"It is expected that institutions disbursing allowances via 3rd parties' suppliers should disburse money to students using the NSFAS guidelines of 60/40 split on upfront payment."

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