NSFAS Rejects Over 286 462 Applications
NSFAS News– The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) says it has processed more than 1.5-million applications from prospective students.
Of those, 286,462 have been rejected and 56,063 are being processed. More than 1.2-million students have been provisionally accepted, while more than 40,000 students are awaiting exam results for the previous academic year.
NSFAS CEO Andile Nongogo made the revelation on Friday while giving a progress report to parliament’s portfolio committee on higher education and innovation on the implementation of audit action plans from the auditor-general.
Of the rejected applications, 144,433 were those of new prospective students.
Nongogo took responsibility for the entity’s failure to process all applications.
“In terms of the status of funding, chairperson, we have processed about 1.5-million applications for all the people that wanted to access higher education,” he said.
“There is a cohort of students that we are still waiting for to submit supporting documents … But, chair, we should also take accountability and indicate that part of the problem with such delays was with the system issues that we were having as highlighted earlier. And of course we’ve had to ask some of the potential beneficiaries to resubmit that information as a consequence of those issues and we’ve also had to extend the appeals processes.”
In terms of appeals, 27% had been approved and 51% were still under evaluation, he said.
The entity also attributed the delays and funding decisions to the R10bn budget shortfall it recorded.
“NSFAS no longer has cash reserves. These were depleted with the 2020 extended academic year and, as such, is no longer in the position to provide advances to institutions, particularly universities.
“In the current academic cycle this was exacerbated by the fact that the allocation of R3.2bn of the 2021 budget shortfall has not yet been received from the National Skills Fund. We are currently engaging with the DHET to fast track this,” he said.
On progress in the implementation of the audit action plan, Nongongo said the AG had issued 35 audit findings. Of those, 40% (14) were completed, 60% (21) were in progress. Most of the matters that are in process will be implemented by the end of the financial year.
Chairperson of the committee Nompendulo Mkhatshwa said there had been some progress the entity had made, but expressed concern at the systems in place.
“I think in terms of systems, we are far from the point that we want to be at,” he said.
Meanwhile, MP Tebogo Letsie said that based on the entity’s presentation, it appeared that it was not in a poor state. He, however, said the NSFAS board and executives ought to do more.
“I don’t think NSFAS is mess. I think you comrades there are doing a good job, but this job is not good enough because it is still not responding to the legacy problems at NSFAS,” he said.
MPs Dibolelo Mahlatsi and Ntombi Khumalo also expressed concern at a “worrisome” presentation by the National Skills Fund (NSF).
“The presentation gives us many excuses in terms of why these things happened and why they are not resolved. It does not give us a clear action plan by NSF to say this is what we are qualified on and this is what we intend to do,” said Mahlatsi.
Letsie added that he was extremely worried about the entity’s position.
“I am extremely worried … and something needs to be done to try to assist that entity … I am not confident that NSF will receive a clean audit,” said Letsie.