Accountability required for NSFAS failure at SPU – Delmaine Christians

DA MP says student protests disrupted university in Kimberley this week

Accountability required for NSFAS failure at SPU

11 August 2023

The Democratic Alliance (DA) demands that the National Department of Higher Education and Training must ensure that there is accountability for the ongoing failure to disburse government funding correctly and consistently for tertiary studies. This comes after student protests in Kimberley disrupted Sol Plaatje University (SPU) this week.

The DA is particularly concerned by reports that 107 students from SPU were irregularly defunded, mid-year. According to information provided today by the SPU Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Crouch, at least 22 students were mistakenly defunded. This is believed to be due to an error between the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and their appointed service provider. A number of defunded students were also found not to be eligible for funding.

Red lights flickered at the start of the year, when SPU had to step in and make payments for students because the service provider was not ready. The service provider took over the central administration of NSFAS in June 2023, but clearly they were still not ready. This raises serious doubts regarding their ability to manage the disbursement of student funds across the country.

NSFAS has experienced many problems over the years, sparking riots on campuses and leaving students in the lurch. In this case, affected students invested at least half a year of their lives in a tertiary course, only to be abruptly cut off from funding.

The DA will request Minister Nzimande to prioritize the rectification in respect of the wrongly defunded students. We will also submit parliamentary questions to ascertain how the funding discrepancies occurred and how students who didn’t qualify, were awarded funding. We also want to know what type of accountability will be instituted in response to these errors.

The DA appreciates the assistance provided to affected students by SPU, who is not responsible for what has transpired and should not bear the brunt of the NSFAS fallout. We further do not condone any acts of violence, intimidation or destruction of property and call on students to refrain from participating in criminal acts.

Issued by Delmaine Christians, DA Member of the NCOP Select Committee on Education, 11 August 2023