- The National Student Financial Aid Scheme has paid out exorbitant sums resulting in R1 billion worth of irregular expenditure
- This has seen a 300% increase in incorrect payments to students at universities and colleges
- Briefly.co.za explains how this came to pass and who is responsible for the costly mix-up
R1 billion worth of incorrect payments have been made by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
Parliament recently heard how the scheme had seen an increase of 300% in expenditure with a qualified audit currently underway.
Briefly.co.za examines the facts behind the situation to determine how this came to pass.
Fin24 reports that Dr Randall Carolissen, interim administrator at NSFAS, noted in a report that the irregularities stemmed from poor internal controls and lax oversight.
When Carolissen arrived at the financial aid provider last year, he found an entity in a sorry state:
"At the time of the appointment of the administrator, nobody had anticipated the degree of dysfunctionality of NSFAS or the pervasiveness of maladministration and the great rot that ensconced itself in the system."
Little effort was made to check the right students were being paid out, with reconciliations only done when queries were made.
On top of the incorrect payments, the scheme failed to pay many students on time, with Carolissen commenting:
"In 2018, the majority of students went unfunded for periods of up to eight months, causing considerable hardship and disruption in the higher education sector."
A voucher system to help students buy textbooks has been stopped after it was found to have become a target of scams in which the vouchers were traded for cash.
While the situation is bleak, Carolissen says that oversight and controls have all been improved on, with the applications for this year running smoother.
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