The Higher Education and Training Department and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) board have recommitted to being sure that full compliance with all legislative and regulatory requirements to be able to receive clean audits in future.
NSFAS has obtained an unqualified audit from the Auditor General after having a turnaround strategy put in place after it received an audit disclaimer this past year.
Higher Education and Training Minister Dr Blade Nzimande said his department and NSFAS board were mutually devoted to accomplishing the remainder of its turnaround goals, this includes boosting the amount of money readily available for both loans and bursaries, and improving upon the way NSFAS communicates its message to learners. This will assist students to become mindful of the financial assistance that is accessible to them prior to leaving school.
The checklist of goals also involves widening the definition of students who happen to be qualified to apply for student financial aid, streamlining the application processes making sure that money reaches students simply and efficiently and introducing modern systems to control the billions of rands that NSFAS distributes.
The scheme at the same time intends to crack down on fraud and corruption at institutions making sure that financial aid actually reaches the students it is intended for; and drastically decreasing the number of NSFAS students who either fail or drop out by creating programmes together with institutions and stakeholders to provide students the most effective possibility of graduating.
“My department and NSFAS happen to be in the process of introducing the far-reaching modifications at the NSFAS which will see it accomplish these goals within the next three years,” Nzimande said.
Ever since the creation of NSFAS in 1999, funds allotted to NSFAS have risen significantly from R441 million in 1999 to R5.5 billion in 2011/2012, furnishing financial aid to 210 000 students in 2010.
As stated by the minister, the master plan is to expand this figure in an attempt to realise the objective of progressively providing free education for students coming from poor families as mandated by government.
“Part of our long term strategy is to move to a student-centric model to be sure the money follows the students,” he said, adding that NSFAS is going to be undertaking periodic audits to make certain that funds allotted to all institutions are put to use accordingly.
NSFAS Chairperson Zamayedwa Sogayise stated that the board was fully commited to putting in place the policies, strategies, operational plans and leadership designed to completely transform NSFAS towards a model public entity, competent at delivering financial aid to students who will go on to complete their educational goals and play a role in the development of South Africa.
“The board has made considerable progress in accomplishing its turnaround objectives while setting up and maintaining current operations,” said Sogayise, adding the fact that the board expects to be able to report much better performance in all areas of operation within the next year.
The scheme at present extends to students at 23 universities and 50 Further Education Training colleges nationwide.
For information, contact NSFAS directly – click here