Nicola Jenvey. South Africa’s Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande recently revealed that graduates acquiring tertiary education with assistance from the government-funded National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) owe R13.4 billion (US$1.5 billion) in unpaid loans – and about 20% of them have not repaid a single cent.
He proposes getting the South African Revenue Service involved by deducting money from defaulters' salaries, claiming that recouping the capital had become “a priority”.
By its own admission the NSFAS, in its 2011 annual report delivered to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group in February this year, the scheme is "not good at recovering loans". Only R638 million or 5% of the long-term loan amounting to R12.2 billion has been recovered.
Despite the debt repayment issue, Nzimande hails the NSFAS as "a feather in the government's cap", with R5 billion disbursed in the current financial year. The annual report reflected that the scheme had disbursed R19 billion to students since its inception in 1999 and this year's figure followed the R5.5 billion disbursed in 2011. More...