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NSFAS Chair appointed by Department of Higher Education

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NSFAS Chair appointed by Department of Higher Education

NSFAS Chair appointed by Department of Higher Education. The Department of Higher Education, led by Minister Blade Nzimande, has appointed Professor Lourens Van Staden as the acting Chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This leadership change is pivotal in determining the future course of the financial aid scheme.

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Immediate Tasks for Van Staden

Van Staden assumes his role during a crucial period for NSFAS. His immediate priorities include appointing a new CEO and implementing the Werksmans report commissioned by NSFAS. These tasks coincide with the processing of 2024 NSFAS bursary applications and the commencement of the academic year.

Ministerial Briefing Emphasizes Readiness

Minister Nzimande held a briefing session with Van Staden, emphasizing the urgency of prioritizing readiness for the upcoming academic year. NSFAS, responsible for funding over a million students in approved programs at South African universities and colleges, plays a vital role in facilitating higher education.

Leadership Change Amidst Allegations

The appointment of Van Staden follows the voluntary 30-day leave of absence by NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa. Allegations from the Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) claim kickbacks involving Khosa and Minister Nzimande. The Werksmans report, investigating irregularities in service provider appointments, is part of this unfolding situation.

Werksmans Report Findings

The Werksmans Report focused on irregularities related to a specific bid, revealing potential misconduct by former NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo. Nongogo’s connections to service providers awarded a lucrative contract raised concerns, leading to his termination. The report recommends terminating service provider contracts and subjecting implicated staff to disciplinary inquiries.

Conclusion

The appointment of Professor Lourens Van Staden marks a critical juncture for NSFAS, aligning with the imperative to address leadership challenges and implement necessary reforms. As NSFAS navigates these changes, its commitment to providing financial aid for students remains paramount. The outcomes of the Werksmans report and ensuing disciplinary actions will further shape the future integrity and effectiveness of NSFAS.

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NSFAS News

NSFAS Board Dissolution Reasons

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NSFAS Board Dissolution Reasons

NSFAS Board Dissolution Reasons. More than a million students rely on funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). However, challenges with their funding have led to the decision by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande to dissolve the NSFAS board. This article explores the reasons behind this decision and its implications.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

Challenges Leading to the Dissolution

Last week, Minister Nzimande decided to dissolve the NSFAS board due to its failure to ensure the financial aid scheme implemented its responsibilities effectively. The board had been unable to carry out basic responsibilities allocated to it by the Minister and the Act governing NSFAS.

NSFAS Role and Responsibilities

NSFAS provides comprehensive bursaries and student loans to deserving students enrolled in approved courses at universities and TVET colleges. This funding covers tuition and registration fees, as well as allowances for food, accommodation, and learning materials. However, recent non-payment of allowances put students at risk, prompting urgent action from the Minister.

Reasons for Dissolution

Minister Nzimande explained that the board had failed to fulfil its duties, including implementing recommendations, ensuring timely payment of student allowances, submitting reports to Parliament, managing organizational capacity issues, and addressing student concerns promptly.

Issues Identified

The dissolution was partly due to irregularities related to the appointment of service providers for direct allowance payments, as highlighted in the Werksmans report. Recommendations from the report, including terminating contracts of certain service providers, were not fully implemented by NSFAS.

Impact of Board Failure

The board’s failure to distribute student allowances caused stress for students and families and jeopardized the stability of some TVET colleges and universities. Additionally, the board’s inability to consult on guidelines for Missing Middle Funding and implement solutions further hindered progress in addressing financial aid gaps.

Reactions and Endorsements

Stakeholders, including student structures and the Parliamentary Higher Education Committee, welcomed the dissolution. The committee endorsed the Minister’s actions, citing NSFAS’s failure to disburse funds effectively and submit required reports to Parliament.

Appointment of Administrator

Following the dissolution, Minister Nzimande appointed Sithembiso Freeman Nomvalo as the new Administrator for NSFAS. Nomvalo will oversee the governance, management, and administration of NSFAS for 12 months, including developing guidelines for Missing Middle Funding.

Conclusion

The dissolution of the NSFAS board reflects the government’s commitment to ensuring effective management of student funding. The appointment of a new Administrator signals a fresh start for NSFAS, with a focus on addressing the challenges that have plagued the scheme and improving its efficiency in supporting students in need.

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