Nzimande defends NSFAS decision to deregister some students

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande has defended the decision of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to deregister student who had misrepresented their family income.

In August, NSFAS decided to cancel funding for 5 000 students for the 2020 academic year, citing financial information obtained from the South African Revenue Service (SARS) revealed that the total household family income for these students was above the R350 000 threshold.

Nzimande has told the Parliamentary Higher Education Committee that government cannot fight against corruption in the rest of society and then turn a blind eye when it is committed by students.

He says those who unfairly benefited were denying deserving students from being assisted because there are limited funds.

“We’re not going to tolerate corruption; whoever is doing it. We can’t say because there are corrupt activities done by students, then we throw some kind of revolutionary so-called solidarity. The fact of the matter is that NSFAS has discovered that there are students who lied about their family income. We must nail them just as on the Zondo Commission is nailing people, just like the NPA, just like the Hawks. We can’t want to appear to be revolutionary by tolerating corruption in sectors.”

NSFAS said in August that students who unduly received funds from it must pay back the money.

However, the scheme gave students a chance to appeal the decision.

“We do understand since we’ve checked the SARS data, the data is about a year old, but things could have changed in the household people lose their jobs, people die, people get divorced that is why we leave this avenue open, it is not just a blunt instrument that we are using here,” said NSFAS administrator Dr Randall Carolissen.