Dr Randall Carolissen has been appointed as NSFAS administrator.

The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will open 2019 funding applications during the first week of September after the process was halted in July to give the financial scheme sufficient time to clear the 2017 and 2018 backlog.

On August 3, Wits Vuvuzela reported that more than 20 000 applications for the 2018 year had not been finalised as a result of applicants not submitting supporting documents.

The report also said that as many as 70 338 first-year students for 2018 had not yet signed their NSFAS bursary contracts even though they had received proof of success for their application.

This week, NSFAS spokes-person Kagisho Mamabolo said, “Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do about students who didn’t submit supporting documents, that’s not our responsibility. We managed to decrease the number of students who qualified but didn’t sign contracts.

“As of [Tuesday, August 22], 29 000 first-time entering students for 2018 have not yet signed their NSFAS bursary contracts. Our team is contacting them to come forward and sign so that their fees and allowances can be paid,” he added.

Higher Education and Training minister Naledi Pandor dissolved the NSFAS board on Friday, August 17, and appointed Dr Randall Carolissen as administrator of the scheme.

The minister’s spokesperson, Lunga Ngqengelele, said that Dr Carolissen had been mandated to open the 2019 application process in September so that applicants can have enough time to submit their applications.

“We don’t have the luxury of time, the process has to be opened as soon as possible. We have asked Dr Carolissen to prioritise these issues. NSFAS is working very hard to make sure that the backlog is reduced before end of August,” Ngqengelele said.

Carolissen has been seconded from the South African Revenue Services (SARS) where he is a group executive, for a period of one year. He is also the chairperson of the Wits University Council.

Mamabolo told Wits Vuvuzela that the immediate focus for Carollissen and the NSFAS chief executive officer Steven Zwane will be to ensure that students who successfully applied for funding receive payouts.

“Over the next few months Dr Carolissen will work with universities and TVET colleges to make sure that student funding for the 2019 academic year goes smoothly,” Mamabolo said.
Mamabolo added that the NSFAS funding model would be reviewed over the next few months.

“This review will provide recommendations for the long-term improvement of the scheme so that it can effectively carry out its mandate, to ensure that students from poor and working classes are effectively supported to succeed in their studies,” he said.

Wits University chief financial officer Prakash Desai said he did not have statistics of how many Wits students had applied for NSFAS funding.

“Since the application process was moved from the university and centralised, we receive all the statistics from NSFAS. We are still waiting to see how many students applied, how many were accepted and received funding, and how many were rejected,” he said.

Lethabo Malatji, a first-year BA General student who is funded by NSFAS, said that she hoped next year’s funds would be released without any delay.

”NSFAS really needs to get its house in order. We are already dealing with a lot as students.
We don’t need any added stress of living in limbo without knowing when our fees and allowances are going to be paid,” the 19-year-old said.

Applicants are urged to apply online before the closing date which will be announced when the applications open.

FEATURED IMAGE: Students eagerly await the opening of applications for the 2019 academic year. Photo: Takalani Sioga