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Nearly 90% of University Students Successfully Transitioned to New NSFAS Payment System

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Nearly 90% of University Students Successfully Transitioned to New NSFAS Payment System

Nearly 90% of University Students Successfully Transitioned to New NSFAS Payment System. The Implementation of a New Payment System by NSFAS and Associated Tensions. The introduction of a new direct payment system by the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has generated significant tension within the higher education sector and has become a focal point for recent student demonstrations across the nation.

Streamlining Allowance Payments through NSFAS MasterCard

With the intention to simplify allowance payments and minimize delays, NSFAS has rolled out a novel direct payment solution employing the NSFAS MasterCard. This endeavor aims to enhance the disbursement of allowances to eligible students under the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).

Challenges Arising from the Transition

However, since its initiation, the new system has not been without challenges. Students have raised concerns regarding the onboarding process, which has proven less than “seamless.” Questions have emerged about the communication strategies employed for the new system and the decision to implement it during the academic year.

NSFAS Response: Majority of Funded Students Successfully Onboarded

Acknowledging these apprehensions, NSFAS has issued a statement indicating that a substantial majority of funded students across universities have been successfully integrated into the new direct payment system. Notably, almost 90% of students have now registered for the designated NSFAS bank account.

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Successful Onboarding Achievement

Within just two months of implementation at universities, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme proudly reports that 86% of university students receiving NSFAS funding have transitioned to the new direct payment method. This accomplishment signifies a pivotal milestone in their ongoing commitment to delivering efficient and prompt financial support to their beneficiaries.

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Disbursement of NSFAS Allowances to University Students

According to NSFAS records, an approximate sum of R608 million has been disbursed in NSFAS allowances to nearly 358,000 students across South African universities through the new direct payment mechanism.

Recent Disbursement Figures

As of July 31, 2023, more than R600 million was disbursed to nearly 360,000 university students. Similarly, over R380 million in student allowances was distributed to over 98,000 TVET College students on July 25, 2023.

Leading Beneficiary and Smallest Onboarded University

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) emerges as the institution with the highest number of beneficiaries integrated into the new payment system, with over 34,000 students supported by NSFAS having received approximately R70 million in total allowances through this method. In contrast, Rhodes University has the fewest number of students onboarded (784), who collectively received R1,300,200 in NSFAS allowances.

Ongoing Challenges and Student Protests

Despite these advancements, the scheme acknowledges that obstacles persist. Around 14% of students still await full access to their bursary benefits and the new direct payment process.

Reasons Behind Student Protests

In recent months, students funded by NSFAS have grappled with various issues related to funding and allowance distribution. Delays in allowance disbursement and allegations of wrongful defunding have led some institutions to temporarily halt in-person classes, sparking protest actions.

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NSFAS’ Defunding Remedial Process

NSFAS spokesperson Slumezi Skosana explains that the remedial process of defunding students was initiated in response to over R5 billion disbursed to students who did not meet eligibility criteria but received funding.

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Student Perspectives and Further Concerns

Students contend that many have been unfairly defunded and voice opposition to the new online payment system for allowances. Some claim to have received NSFAS allowances since the year’s start, only to have payments suddenly cease in May.

Investigation and Banking Service Providers

Concerns surrounding third-party financial service providers involved in the new payment system have prompted a public protector-led investigation. Four banking service providers, including Tenet Technology, Coinvest Africa, Ezaga Holdings, and Norraco Corporation, partnered with the bursary scheme to introduce the payment solution.

Formal Complaint and Exorbitant Bank Charges

The Student Representative Council (SRC) at Stellenbosch University filed a formal complaint against NSFAS with the Public Protector, seeking an inquiry into the newly introduced direct allowance payment system. Reports of students facing exorbitant bank charges have also surfaced.

NSFAS’ Commitment to Address Challenges

NSFAS remains steadfast in its commitment to resolving challenges experienced by some students in accessing the new system and in clarifying funding statuses. The scheme is actively collaborating with universities, TVET college officials, and student bodies to improve the academic experience and is determined to ensure transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to concerns from all stakeholders.

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