Cape Town – The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will forge ahead with its direct payment of allowances to students through their bank card in two days despite conceding that the recent violent protests on a number of campuses were an attempt to stop the system.
The financial aid scheme started the pilot phase at TVET colleges last year and it now hopes to onboard universities from Thursday.
However, this has been rejected by students claiming the system already had problems at colleges.
Last week more than 100 students led by student representative councils (SRCs) from at least 14 institutions marched to the NSFAS Cape Town office alleging officials failed to respond to a number of funding concerns.
The grievances also include the 60-credits policy, the close-out process for students with outstanding fees and an update on the appeals process.
NSFAS spokesperson Slumezi Skosana acknowledged that management received the students’ memorandum and subsequently engaged with them.
“We note that very few issues in the memorandum have to do with the sphere of NSFAS operations. We will, however, over and above the engagements we have had with students, continue to communicate developments and progress on the issues.
“NSFAS has called for an urgent meeting with the officials of the South African Union of Students (Saus). In observance of the principle of engagement with student leaders, the CEO had an engagement with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) SRC just a day before the unannounced protest where several issues affecting students were clarified,” said Skosana.
He said in relation to the direct payment they noted statements from the students on matters that are related to service providers and procurement.
“We are aware that the major purpose of the protest is to try to stop a new system of direct payment which will commence next month.
We take a dim view of the increasing involvement of student leaders in matters of service procurement and alleged collaboration with service providers.
“We are taking an unprecedented step of alerting law enforcement agents of our observations and information at our disposal with the objective of getting to the bottom of some of the causes of instability in the higher education sector,” he said.
According to Skosana in the meantime, management will implement policies and decisions of the entity within the necessary legal and policy provision.
CPUT spokesperson Lauren Kansley and the SRC agreed they met with the NSFAS leadership following violent protests on campus.
Saus spokesperson Asive Dlanjwa said while they have met with NSFAS leadership over student concerns since early this year, they were open to engagements that will bring solutions.