NSFAS has had its fair share of troubles when it comes to the smooth operation of the student financial aid scheme. Despite hoping for a delay- and hassle-free 2023, government bursary scheme is already kicking off with a rocky start that hopes to be soon resolved.
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is already expecting to face a number of challenges during this new academic year.
Most prominent is the issue the financial aid provider is trying to resolve lies with the distribution of allowances to students funded by the bursary scheme.
The problems NSFAS could potentially be facing were brought up during a recent Parliamentary Committee Meeting, where the key challenges and risks that are associated with the current methods of payment NSFAS uses.
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), South Africa’s Parliamentary Committee and various other stakeholders were all in attendance to assess and discuss the state of readiness for the upcoming academic year, as well as what issues are currently at hand.
According to the meeting’s report, “the current methods require mainly the use of beneficiaries’ personal information and contact details to function, and as such, beneficiaries were targeted due to the many available and unlawful ways to obtain such information.”
Therefore, the following challenges were highlighted:
- Unauthorised access to beneficiary allowance and the soliciting of beneficiaries by fraudsters through social media and malicious websites.
- Insufficient cyber security on the web platforms NSFAS makes use of, resulting in exposed beneficiary data and theft of their allowances.
- Lack of physical variation which leads to paying allowances to beneficiaries that don’t exist.
- Beneficiary information being too easily accessed by NSFAS agents who handle the allowance queries, which meant the possibility of theft increasing.
A number of solutions were discussed by those in attendance at the meeting, to resolve some of the challenges that NSFAS, as well as its beneficiaries, are experiencing.
Some of these solutions include:
- Streamlining the process of allowance payments so that it comes directly from NSFAS in order to ensure that payments are received on time by eliminating third-party dependencies.
- Increasing the amount of funds paid out to cater to the growing number of NSFAS beneficiaries, as well as monitoring the spending of those allowances in order to identify areas that may require financial awareness initiatives.
- Promoting financial responsibility.
- Partnering with four service providers in the financial services sector as a supply chain in order to provide a bank account where the funds will be disbursed into you.