The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) should be kept away from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) application process, the Financial Aid Practitioners of South Africa Institutions (Fapsa) said last week in a hard-hitting statement that called for a raft of improvements in the country’s student funding system.
Fapsa, set up to advocate and champion the ideals and aspirations of financial aid practitioners, said in a media statement on Friday, following a meeting with institutions, that it was worried that youth development financier NYDA had been given permission to hand out and collect Nsfas application forms.
Fapsa secretary general Pontsho Mosoeu said the meeting with institutions of higher learning raised concerns in relation to staff at NYDA and “most institutions were concerned as to whether staff at NYDA was trained properly to capture and deal with the Nsfas application form processes”.
“We wish to categorically put it clear to Nsfas that we do not support the NYDA to handle the application process,” Mosoeu said in a statement that also decried the frustrations students and institutions faced as a result of the alleged poor management of the Nsfas application systems.
The NYDA has branches and local youth offices throughout the country’s nine provinces and partnered with Nsfas in the last two years with a view to improve opportunities for young people to access Nsfas funding.
“The partnership will allow Nsfas to make use of the15 NYDA branches nationwide, as well as the more than 50 Local Youth Offices (LYO) to accept Nsfas applications for funding. These local youth offices are situated within local government facilities in all nine provinces,” Nsfas acting CEO Lerato Nage said last month.
Students could walk in to any NYDA branch or local youth office in their region, where they will be assisted to complete and submit a manual application, Nage said. However, Fapsa this week disagreed, saying that the partnership was not working.
Mosoeu also urged Nsfas improve: “A number of institutions are still awaiting outstanding funds due to them relating to the 2016 academic year. All institutions reported that they were not in agreement with the current payments that are processed by Nsfas in tranches as it creates a mess in terms of reconciliation and allocating of funds to the students’ fee accounts”.
He said that “on a daily basis as staff at Nsfas seems to send students from pillar to post and they always send the students back to our offices irrespective of how many times the registration template has been send to Nsfas”.
“The call centre remains one of the biggest obstacles at Nsfas to date. Staff within the call center continues to give contradicting information to our students”.
Mosoeu said: “We wish to further indicate that the instability of many of our institutions is as a consequence of misleading information by Nsfas, as a result students end up protesting at our campuses.”
He also cited problems with some student’s ability to gain access to their book or meal allowance through the Sbux account system. “Based on all the challenges faced by both students and institutions a unanimous decision was taken that no institution was in favor of using the Sbux system,” he said.
He said there were also problems with unfunded qualifying students, disability funding delays and students funded at other institutions. “Institutions also indicated that too many students on the funding list studying at other institutions but they continue to send their information to the incorrect institution.
“Institutions felt that not enough is being done by Nsfas as they fail to compare the list with registration data template that is submitted by institutions,” Mosoeu said.