Buffalo City TVET college. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/ SISIPHO ZAMXAKA

The beleaguered National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will re-open applications for funding for the 2019 academic year early in September, the department of higher education and training has confirmed.

On Thursday, the department and scheme briefed parliament’s higher education and training portfolio committee on the ongoing crisis around the disbursement of funds to students.

"The 2019 applications will be opened early in September 2018 and an effective plan for delivering student financial aid, which will involve the support and collaboration of universities and Training and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges, will be developed within the next month. Work has already begun on this," said Diane Parker, a deputy director-general at the department.

NSFAS has been struggling to ensure the smooth roll-out of free higher education. Many students have complained about delayed payments, which sparked protests at various tertiary institutions earlier in 2018. In July, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor asked NSFAS to suspend applications for 2019 due to a backlog in the allocation of student funding for 2017 and 2018.

The crisis at the multibillion-rand scheme is said to have prompted the resignation of board chair Sizwe Nxasana last week. Subsequently, the department announced at the weekend that the entire board of the scheme would soon be dissolved.

The department said it was in the process of hiring an administrator who will take over the running of the organisation for a period yet to be determined.

Parker said a review of the business processes and systems of NSFAS was being drafted and its details would be announced once the administrator has commenced work.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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