NSFAS admin wreaks havoc in schools
A few years after the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) taking over the administration of student fund distribution from tertiary institutions, the relationship between students and the Scheme is still conflicted, leading to the closure of two Eastern Cape institutions.
Some universities, recognising the shortcomings of NSFAS hired a company, Intellimali to distribute the funding. Dubbed a simpler, quicker and more manageable way to administer a student bursary, Intellimali distributes the monthly allowances. But students are still fighting for the right to free education, despite the government granting it.
The East Cape Midlands College in Makhanda has been closed indefinitely following violent clashes between students, college management and the police.
Last week’s five-day strike for allowances led to the arrest of 18 students, when they burnt tyres and blockaded public roads. They were released without bail on Thursday and are due back in court in October.
Spokesperson for the College, Kate Oladimeji, assured that management is seeking to ensure speedy resolutions to problems faced with the administration of NSFAS allowances.
The University of Fort Hare’s Alice campus was shut down last week after four students were shot by police during an act of vandalism to property, during a strike about the same allowances.
The students burnt some of the university structures and stole a cow from citizens, which they later slaughtered. University management ordered students to vacate until September 2 according to Lizo Piti, acting spokesperson for the University. An impasse between students and management on the ‘unacceptable’ state of infrastructure and students whose funding applications have been turned down by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Allowances were also not paid on time.
Spokesperson for the police, Captain Khaya Tonjeni said they arrested three male students between the ages of 20 and 22. They are expected to appear in court soon.
Piti clarified that on the matter of student funding, “NFSAS is government administered, we have no say as to who gets funded or not, ours is to facilitate the applications. Unsuccessful students are notified directly and we get a list of the approved students. We help them appeal and when they are denied again, we inherit students who are not funded,” he said. However, unlike Fort Hare, Midlands college manages NFSAS allowances and the delays were caused, allegedly, by under-staffing in the financial aid offices.
Walter Sisulu University student is currently on trial in East London Magistrate Court after she was given R14 million by mistake by Intellimali instead of R1 400 in 2017. Sibongile Mani (28) spent up to R800 000 of the money before the transaction was reversed.
Now she is being tried for an error that no one has taken blame for.