Nsfas Preparing To Disburse 2023 Nsfas Allowances On Time
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has proposed many new changes to address challenges in its funding model. However, many have raised concerns on whether the scheme has efficiently prepared to implement these changes.
Last week, Universities South Africa (USAf) held a meeting with key stakeholders, including the Nsfas and the Department of Higher Education and Training to discuss several matters.
Universities SA (USAf) chairperson, Prof Sibongile Muthwa said that the aim of the meeting was to address concerns the body has regarding the proposed policy changes made by Nsfas on the allocation of student funds for the 2023 academic year.
The meeting highlighted the need for adequate preparation for the 2023 academic year and to systemically manage large-scale proposed NSFAS policy changes incrementally with all stakeholders, to ensure minimal disruptions across the university sector.
Muthwa said it was important for all stakeholders come together in ensuring smooth registration and allowance distribution of new and returning students.
According to Nsfas, the scheme has provisionally allocated approximately R3.5bn for the payment of allowances between February and April 2023 for students who will be funded.
Earlier this year the scheme announced that it plans to roll out a new direct payment solution that would see beneficiaries receiving their monthly allowances via a Nsfas bank card.
Although many have welcomed the new approach, concerns have been raised on the timing of the payments and on the scheme’s readiness for the rollout, considering that public universities start the academic year annually during January and February.
Muthwa said that Nsfas has assured vice-chancellors and stakeholders that there won’t be any delays with distribution of allowances like in previous years.
The bursary scheme has decided to pilot the direct payment of allowances to students at three universities, whilst other universities may apply to Nsfas for exemption, provided they have efficient processes and systems for disbursing allowances to student.
“Nsfas undertook to reconsider the implementation timelines in consultation with the Ministry and Department, given the identified risks associated with the proposed approach. Individual universities will be exempt if they apply to Nsfas based on specific criteria that Nsfas will communicate.”
Furthermore, In an effort to mitigate the challenges faced by students with regards to student accommodation, Nsfas plans to take a more proactive role in the student accommodation processes to ensure value for money.
Nsfas noted that any universities preferring to continue with their current student accommodation arrangements must apply to Nsfas in order to do it.
When the scheme is ready to take over these processes, it will issue a three-month notice to universities before the end of the 2023 academic year.