Just more than three years ago, the higher education landscape witnessed two seminal moments. First, then minister of higher education Blade Nzimande appointed former CEO of FirstRand Sizwe Nxasana as the chairperson of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). This was in light of serious governance challenges at NSFAS that had left it struggling to fulfil its mandate. Back then, its mandate was the distribution of funding to poor students while they were studying, coupled with the collection of loans from students who had graduated and found work. The reasons NSFAS was struggling to meet its mandate were varied and well-documented. From an inability to track its own beneficiaries to the lack of sufficient financial coverage for students still studying, it seemed ill-equipped to meet the expectations of any of its stakeholders. The appointment of Nxasana, with his track record in corporate and banking in particular, ushered in a sense of hope that it could once again be se...

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