More than 3000 students from Walter Sisulu University (WSU) have been blocked from accessing their monthly food allowances, apparently because they failed to sign their National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) agreement forms.
University spokesperson Yonela Tukwayo yesterday confirmed that the university had stopped distributing NSFAS food allowances, which went up to R1400 a month, to 3000 students.
“The university had been taking a huge risk paying out those food allowances without the students having signed the [NSFAS] loan agreements.
“We gave them [the money] in good faith hoping that they would sign but till now we have not signed,” said Tukwayo.
Although NSFAS had migrated to a more student-centred model for providing funding for students nationally, WSU was still partly involved in the distribution of NSFAS funds.
WSU is the only university where NSFAS selects students who will get a state loan and bursary but WSU still carries the responsibility of distributing the funds to the students.
Tukwayo said the university had run numerous campaigns calling for students to sign their loan agreements so that the scheme could pay the institution.
“There has been a lot negligence on the part of the students because NSFAS has been generous with the deadlines.
“NSFAS has been postponing for a number of months now.
“We had a meeting with NSFAS in June highlighting our challenges with the students but the principle remains that students must sign these agreements,” said Tukwayo.
Luvuyo Maholwana, a third-year diploma in building student who was affected by the decision, said he missed the deadlines because he felt the process was complicated.
“I had been trying to sign the online agreement form but it would require a one-time pin that the system automatically sends to my old phone.
“I felt it was too much trouble for me and hoped nothing would happen to my allowance,” said Maholwana.
SRC president Thulani Landu said the food allowances were central to the lives of students of WSU because they ensured that that the students remained in class.
He said they were willing to seek guidance from the university to assist all those affected.
“The type of students that we have depend on NSFAS for food and when they don’t have food they cannot continue with their studies.
“We will quantify the number, then craft a way forward,” said Landu. — firstname.lastname@example.org