Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor says the National Student Financial Aid Scheme will, over the next few days, start disbursing outstanding funds that are due to students.
The Minister said this when she fielded questions from members of Parliament in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
Pandor said according to statistics that she received from newly appointed NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen, around 63 000 students – “a majority coming from the TVET college sector”, were affected by this challenge.
“What is pleasing is that in the first seven days of the work of the administrator, we have received massive cooperation from institutions and I am really appreciative of that, as well as student organisations playing a role in ensuring that students do sign their statement of particulars because that then helps us to finalise the applications process and ensure that we have disbursements so within the next four days, we are going to see a significant disbursement of funding,” she said.
The Minister said this before her announcement on Thursday that the NSFAS funding applications for 2019 would be open on Monday, 3 September. She said this after a meeting with the administrator in Cape Town.
In her oral response to MPs on Wednesday, Pandor said the department and NSFAS were “working around the clock” to ensure that they reach as many of the students that are currently not funded as possible.
“You would have recognised that part of the difficulty here is as we process the applications…we are finding that there is going to be a number of students who are receiving quite a significant sum of money. So we are looking at how we will address that as well because they have not been funded for quite a significant period,” she said.
The Administrator’s priority areas
Pandor said, meanwhile, that the administrator would focus on several priority areas as a push is being made to fix current challenges on the system.
“The first is to pay very close attention to finalise the close out of the 2017 and 2018 funding cycles. A number of processes are involved with that particular area.
“For example, ensuring that students receive confirmation that they will be funded, if that has not been done already, that their details on particularly registration, is done, that they sign their bursary agreement forms and that their allowances are paid out. So that is the first priority.
“The second is steps must be taken, in line with preparations that are already underway, to launch the 2019 application cycle in early September.
“The third is supporting and developing an effective plan in consultation with colleges and universities to manage the funding of students in 2019 in order for students who apply when we open applications this year and those who are already beneficiaries know their funding status and response from NSFAS before their registration begins in 2019. So those are the three priorities that I have asked [the administrator] to focus on.”
Source – SAnews.gov.za