The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has welcomed the unqualified audit from the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA).
The AGSA has said there was a significant improvement in the overall audit outcome when compared to prior years, with some challenges remaining, particularly with the performance reporting.
An unqualified audit is an independent auditor's judgement that a company, in this case NSFAS, reflects fair and transparent financial statements which are in compliance with generally accepted accounting principles.
In a statement released by NSFAS it states “Furthermore, this audit outcome paves way for the NSFAS Board to intensify its fundraising objective to bridge the funding gap and cater for students not accommodated by the current funding criterion”.
NSFAS believes that the unqualified audit should signal to its funders that the entity is able to account for the funds it has been tasked with managing.
NSFAS Board Chairperson Ernest Khosa says this is a significant achievement. He says that if a financial institution cannot demonstrate it can manage its funds, it cannot be respected.
Khosa says when his team took over they found that the policies of NSFAS were not in line with the expectations of the students. This included eligibility criteria and what programs get funded.
In February this year, Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke gave NSFAS a qualified audit opinion. This was based on Maluleke not being able to obtain necessary evidence. She was unable to obtain sufficient evidence related to money owed to the universities and prepayments to institutions of higher education. She also obtained no evidence of interest for students who owe universities and bursaries provided to students not being able to be accounted for.
NSFAS has called on the private sector to be part of funding initiatives in the country which has the potential to change lives.