29 000 NSFAS students owe debt to varsities, DA calls for decentralised funding system 

The DA can reveal that 29 140 students currently owe money to universities as a result of inefficiencies at the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

In response to a DA parliamentary question, Minister Blade Nzimande confirmed that these University students are in debt either due to late or incomplete payments by NSFAS.

The constant challenge of rising student debt because of NSFAS incompetence has caused a great threat to the financial stability of many universities across the country and contributes to the instability on campuses.

The blame should be placed at NSFAS’s door because of its inability to synchronize university and TVET college registration systems with their systems for ease of access and a faster turnaround time is failing the students who waiting on funding outcomes.

The DA is of the view that some of NSFAS’s functions must be decentralised to the financial aid offices of institutions to streamline processes and avoid further delays. It would certainly be better and work faster if universities and TVET college registrations were synchronized with NSFAS systems.

The spiralling of student debt is indicative of systematic and administrative failures which have been ongoing for a very long time. NSFAS’s failure to properly handle funding matters will result in higher learning institutions continuing to bear the brunt of student protests, which we have seen happen many times in the past. It is high time NSFAS and institutions work hand in hand to avoid future disruptions.

We therefore call on Minister Nzimande to put measures in place to ensure NSFAS offices are allocated at all universities and TVET colleges.

Only a different NSFAS funding model with decentralised processes into higher education institution will help to limit the delays and produce a sustainable and long-term solution.

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