Students wait for food and book funds for more than 5 months - committee

Students wait for food and book funds for more than 5 months says committee.
Students wait for food and book funds for more than 5 months says committee.
Image: 123rf/ olegdudko

The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education and Training has called on all stakeholders in the higher education sector to work collectively to ensure that the funding disbursement systems for student funding are improved and developed.

“We are concerned about the challenges that had been raised over a period of time with stakeholders resulting from the central applications process and the piloting of the student-centred model‚” said Connie September‚ the chairperson of the committee.

“The system is designed to benefit students‚ and we expect no less. The delays in payments being made to institutions should be dealt with expeditiously‚ we cannot have students waiting for meal and book allowances for longer than five months.”

September said the committee agreed with higher education minister Naledi Pandor that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) systems and capacity should be “expeditiously” improved to benefit students‚ and so that there are no challenges in 2019.

The committee got a briefing from NSFAS‚ the minister‚ and Universities SA on challenges regarding the disbursement of funds to poor students‚ following the introduction of fee-free dispensation for poor students‚ September said.

She called on NSFAS to kick-start the process of redesigning the student-centred funding model so that all other stakeholders could make an input.

“These challenges are not insurmountable; they just need a collective effort. The committee welcomes the willingness of the stakeholders to collectively support a process to ensure that students are not disadvantaged in furthering the much-needed education.”

The committee said it would invite information from the colleges and universities that are experiencing challenges with the disbursements of funds to students.

“But also we will upon our return to parliament ask that the department‚ NSFAS and all other stakeholders account to parliament on the disbursements of funds to students‚” September said‚ reiterating that NSFAS needs to move out of Wynberg to a place where the entity would be more accessible to all.

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