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SIU Recovers More Than R700 Million In NSFAS Funding

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SIU Recovers More Than R700 Million In NSFAS Funding

SIU Recovers More Than R700 Million In NSFAS Funding. The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has recovered a substantial sum of R737,926,351 in its investigation into the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This amount, originally intended to support underprivileged students, was not utilized for its designated purpose and is now being reclaimed.

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Investigation Progress

The recovery includes both unallocated funds and signed acknowledgment of debt agreements. The SIU identified deficiencies in control systems and reconciliation processes within NSFAS, leading to uncollected funds from higher education institutions. Cooperation from these institutions facilitated the swift recovery process.

Recovery Breakdown

The SIU presented its findings to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts, detailing funds recovered from various institutions of Higher Learning, including West Coast College, Northlink College, and others. Acknowledgment of debt agreements was also reached with entities like Motheo Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) College and ineligible beneficiaries.

Control Lapses

The investigation highlighted NSFAS’s failure to establish and enforce controls for annual reconciliation, resulting in financial discrepancies since 2017. Efforts are underway to rectify this, including engaging a service provider for reconciliation processes termed “close-out reporting.”

Addressing Systemic Issues

Dormant accounts on the Celbux e-wallet system and inadequate details regarding NSFAS-funded accommodations were discovered, indicating systemic flaws in NSFAS’s operations.

SIU Mandate and Actions

Authorized under Proclamation R88 of 2022, the SIU is tasked with probing corruption and maladministration within NSFAS. It can pursue civil action and refer criminal conduct to the National Prosecuting Authority for further investigation.

Conclusion

The recovery of over R700 million underscores the necessity for robust oversight and accountability mechanisms within entities like NSFAS. The SIU’s ongoing efforts signal a commitment to rectifying systemic failures and ensuring that funds intended for disadvantaged students are utilized appropriately.

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NSFAS News

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

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How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students

How NSFAS Allowances Paid To Students. More than one million students in South Africa benefit from comprehensive bursaries provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Despite this support, student unions, particularly the South African Students Congress (SASCO), have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of the current funding system and have called for improvements.

Check Also: ZA Student Portal

Challenges Faced by Students

In 2023, NSFAS funded over a million students enrolled in approved courses at universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges. However, the scheme faced challenges in effectively assisting the poor and working-class students due to several issues. These challenges were partly attributed to the implementation of a direct allowance payment system, which led to irregularities and necessitated “consequence management.”

Controversy Over Allowance Distribution

The direct payment system, introduced in 2022, involved four companies handling student allowance payments. However, an investigation revealed potential conflicts of interest, leading to the dismissal of NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo and termination of contracts with the service providers. Despite this, in 2024, NSFAS required students to register with these same companies for allowance distribution, drawing criticism from SASCO.

SASCO Criticisms and Demands

SASCO has accused the NSFAS Board of hypocrisy for reinstating allegedly irregular service providers. They argue that the current system exploits students, leading to delays, inefficiency, and unnecessary charges. SASCO calls for the implementation of recommendations from the Werksmans report, including terminating contracts with the companies.

Accommodation Crisis

SASCO also criticizes NSFAS for its indecisiveness in addressing the student accommodation crisis. While NSFAS launched an accommodation portal in 2022, SASCO argues that NSFAS has not taken practical steps to increase bed spaces in higher learning institutions and TVET Colleges. They demand immediate action to improve student living conditions.

Conclusion

The current NSFAS funding system faces criticism from student unions like SASCO, who call for more transparency, efficiency, and student-centered approaches. The ongoing controversies highlight the need for NSFAS to address these concerns promptly to ensure that students receive the support they need to succeed in their studies.

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