By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has announced the appointment of Sizwe Nxasana as the new Chairperson of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) Board.
Nxasana is the CEO of FirstRand Bank Ltd and FirstRand Limited. He will serve a term of four years effective from 1 August 2015.
Making the announcement during a media briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday, Minister Nzimande said Nxasana’s experience in the financial sector, as well as his background as a chartered accountant, made him the ideal person to lead the scheme in delivering on its mandate and addressing its challenges.
“I cannot think of a more appropriate person to lead the NSFAS Board at this stage,” Minister Nzimande said.
NSFAS is the government student loan and bursary scheme, providing loans and bursaries to students at all 25 public universities and 50 public Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges throughout the country.
However, despite significant increases in the NSFAS allocations available resources are not adequate to meet the needs of all students who are already in the system and eligible for NSFAS loans and bursaries, also there have been inefficiencies in the administration of loans and bursaries at universities and TVET colleges and the failure of management to effectively provide oversight and manage financial and performance reporting.
Working together with the Board and management of the NSFAS, the Minister said Nxasana is expected to guide the implementation of the necessary measures that will enable NSFAS to become a model public entity that complies fully with the provisions of its governing legislation, including the NSFAS Act.
“We expect that he would be able to guide the implementation of the funding, improvement in collection of monies have to be paid to NSFAS and improve functioning of NSFAS scheme.”
Nxasana said the skills he has, especially in financial services, could be used to address some of the challenges that NSFAS faces today and to make sure that it can continue to do it job and the role it was set up to do.
“NSFAS is a very important institution in the context of developing skills in this country. I’m hoping to be part of the Board and the team to make sure that we execute the mandate and the function of NSFAS as it was intended,” Nxasana said.
He said it was important to elevate the level of efficiency and the operation of NSFAS by making sure that the processes, the systems, the people, the agreements that exists between NSFAS and universities or TVET colleges, and the agreements that exist between NSFAS and the students are properly executed along the whole value chain.
“It’s going to be our role as a Board to continue to play an oversight role to make sure that happens.”
Before starting to tackle some of the issues facing NSFAS, Nxasana said it was important for him to understand the organisation first so that they can take more informed decisions.
“I don’t want to work on basis of speculations and rumours but understand what actually goes on in the organisation to make informed decisions. I will be spending time with the team and other stakeholders to make sure we understand what is going on,” Nxasana said.