A sum of R7 billion in irregular expenditure by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) is under investigation by the Office of the Public Protector.
This was announced on Monday by the acting public protector Kholeka Gcaleka as students continue with protests countrywide over “financial exclusion”.
The public protector’s office said that it had received eight complainants concerning Nsfas in 2020.
The public protector will crisscross the country engaging with various institutions across the country over the next five weeks.
“PP will engage with the management of institutions, student representative councils, and Nsfas among other interested parties on issues relating to access to tertiary education,” reads the statement.
“There is ongoing investigation stemming from allegations that the Nsfas incurred irregular expenditure amounting to R7 billion.”
It said that the scheme is alleged to have failed to assist students in that it lacked the ability to raise funds and recover loans, lacked the ability to disburse correct amounts of money and delayed disbursement to students.
“Its senior managers lacked formal qualifications, engaged in unscrupulous procurement, and lacked internal audit independence among other things,” continued the statement.
Gcaleka said that her office was aware of the challenges faced by students of higher learning institutions in the country.
“We are fully aware of the plight of poor students and the struggles they face at tertiary institutions across the country. In response, e intend to intervene to help alleviate the suffering of current and prospective students to have access to tertiary education,” said Gcaleka.
“Two of the challenges that face us as a country in this regard are the basic social justice issues of inequality and exclusion.”
Among the institutions that Gcaleka will visit are the University of Free State, Tshwane University of Technology, Unisa, and some Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges across the country