SRC portfolio member for transformation and student success Nthabiseng Nooe said that the SRC’s stance was taken so that the financial integrity of students using NSFAS may be preserved. She said that it is important to make services financially convenient for students as they are already threatened by historical debt. “As it stands, some commune and flat owners that registered as merchants are increasing accommodation costs by 4% to compensate for the commission they have to give NSFAS. This means students will pay more for essential services and that is not helping students ‘not misuse funds’,” Nooe said.
The SRC’s decision came after the UWC SRC pointed out some failures of sBux. One of these is that students need airtime to access sBux but NSFAS does not cover airtime. It is difficult to access the system unless the user is in close proximity to registered NSFAS merchants. Students that use public transport like buses and taxis cannot use the sBux vouchers to pay because these public transport means are not registered as NSFAS merchants. “The 4% commission [paid] to NSFAS by registered merchants, and the unreliable system going on- and offline will not help our NSFAS students spend better. It reduces the financial freedom they have with the money they are loaning,” said Nooe.The SRC has said it would like a comprehensive assessment from NSFAS that will detail a sustainable way forward.According to the NSFAS’s website, sBux is to be implemented in 2014 at Unisa, Durban University of Technology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Vend, to name a few. UP is not on the list of institutions in which the sBux system will be implemented this year.