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Minister Nzimande Backs NSFAS’s New Direct Payment Approach

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Minister Nzimande Backs NSFAS's New Direct Payment Approach

Minister Nzimande Backs NSFAS’s New Direct Payment Approach. In a demonstration of his endorsement for the fresh direct payment method introduced by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, has affirmed his backing despite challenges encountered in the process.

Prioritizing Students with the Student-Centered Model

Minister Nzimande underscored that the essence of the student-centred model is to pivot the focus of NSFAS operations towards students’ needs. This initiative aims to streamline the disbursement of funds for essential aspects such as tuition, transportation, food, and lodging.

According to him, this shift reduces the number of intermediaries involved in disbursing allowances to students, enhancing the efficiency of the process.

Controversy and Reservations

However, the introduction of this direct payment approach has not been without controversy. Some students from specific institutions have raised concerns, leading to protests. The primary issues cited include increased charges and delays linked to the new payment mechanism.

Discussion and Resolution

Addressing these concerns, Minister Nzimande held discussions with the NSFAS board in Durban. The main agenda involved deliberating on the allocation of allowances and funding decisions for the year 2023.

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The underlying objective of the new payment method is to curtail unauthorized access to beneficiary allowances, eliminate fraudulent payments to non-existent students, and mitigate inconsistencies and delays in disbursements.

See also  NSFAS For TVET College Students | How Does It Work?

Commitment to Equal Opportunity

A joint statement issued by Minister Nzimande and the NSFAS board affirmed their shared commitment to providing financial aid that ensures equitable educational access for students, particularly those from working-class and economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The ultimate goal is to facilitate successful completion of studies and attainment of qualifications.

Condemning Violence and Ensuring Proper Authentication

During the discussions, Minister Nzimande expressed strong disapproval of recent violent protests witnessed in some universities. He stressed that violence is incompatible with legitimate forms of protest and called on student leaders to denounce such actions.

On the technical front, the NSFAS board confirmed the disbursement of substantial amounts. A sum of R608,601,526.00 was disbursed to beneficiaries at public universities, and an additional R383,671,046 was allocated to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges. Over 85% of the students received their payments.

Addressing Connectivity Issues

However, certain students faced issues related to connectivity that hindered their authentication process. In response, NSFAS dispatched teams to campuses to assist these students with the verification and authentication procedure.

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Minister Nzimande called on all students to collaborate with the NSFAS team on-site to complete the authentication process.

Transparent Process and Future Plans

The NSFAS board clarified that claims of incorrect disbursement amounts were misleading and untrue. The board highlighted its ongoing collaboration with entities like the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa), South African Revenue Services (Sars), and the Department of Home Affairs. This partnership ensures the verification of submitted information and accurate processing of students’ applications.

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Moreover, the scheme revealed its partnership with the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) for a study aimed at refining the approach for the upcoming year, including accommodation considerations.

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