NSFAS must reveal vetting process for student accommodation online portal and accrediting agents

Issued by Chantel King MP – DA Shadow Minister of Higher Education
18 Mar 2024 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Chantel King MP.

The DA calls on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to reveal how vetting took place for the student accommodation online portal service providers and student accommodation accrediting agents. Recent investigations by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) into tender contracts, revealed irregularities as well as the service providers’ inability to offer these services effectively.

Service providers have to pay up to R200 per bed for accreditation and an additional 5% of rental received to NSFAS for administration fees. The online portal providers and accrediting agents stand to make millions from these contracts.

The OUTA investigative report also revealed that:

  •  Student accommodation online portal providers are also student accommodation accrediting agents and student accommodation providers;
  • Connected politicians or their family members were awarded contracts to provide accrediting services;
  • Employees of the state received contracts to accredit student accommodation; and
  • Some contract providers have links with service provider directors of other NSFAS tenders, who in turn have links with the former CEO, Andile Nongogo.

Most of the student accrediting agents do not have the necessary experience to render accrediting services and some were set up just before the contracts were awarded.

We have long been of the view that NSFAS has become a lucrative business for politically connected companies. Under the watchful eye of Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, politically connected businesses have enriched themselves at the expense of poor and working-class students.

Investigations into the vetting of these contracts are important to root out systemic corruption at NSFAS and to hold those accountable for any wrongdoing.

The ANC’s reign of cadre deployment and corruption must be stopped at the ballot box on 29 May 2024.

Meanwhile, the start of the 2024 academic year was again marred by controversy at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT, Northlink College and Buffalo City TVET College, all linked to the student accommodation pilot project.