Minister Reveals New Student Funding Model Is In Final Stages Of Development

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The future of student funding has been a topic of wide discussion and debate throughout the 2023 academic year. In a briefing regarding the future of NSFAS funding, Minister Blade Nzimande shared government’s future plans for alternative student funding methods.

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On the 19th of September 2023, Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Blade Nzimande, briefed the media on the future of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). During the briefing, the Minister also mentioned possible prospects for alternative funding means by government, saying:

We are now finalizing the work on our Comprehensive Student Funding Model, which will be announced after approval by Cabinet.

The 2023 academic year has seen many developments in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). These developments have included a new accommodation cap for student accommodations and a 5% inflation linked increase to student allowances and a 10% increase to living allowances. 

Now, with the announcement of a new funding alternative to NSFAS, questions have arisen around its implementation. In response to questions posed by Ms. N. N. Chirwa regarding the funding alternative, Minister Nzimande offered more insight into how the fund is going to function.

The New Funding Model

Minister Nzimande mentioned that funding for the initiative would be sourced from the National Skills Fund (NSF), Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s), Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Code 300 skills, and banks. The funding model is meant to provide students who form a part of the ‘Missing Middle’ with financial aid.

The ‘Missing Middle’ refers to those students who come from families that do not necessarily qualify for NSFAS funding, but who also do not earn enough to be able to fund their own education. Students in this funding bracket would have to be able to prove an accumulated household income of between R350 000 and R600 000.

The Comprehensive Student Funding Model intends to support the estimated 11% of university students who fall into the ‘Missing Middle’ category. As of November 2023, it seems that planning for the funding model is near its finalisation, as Minister Nzimande shared,

I am delighted to report that the Comprehensive Student Funding Model is in the process of been finalized by Cabinet.

The Minister than said that more details will be provided on this development.

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Missing middle student applying for a bursary

The cost associated with getting a degree is not affordable for many students in South Africa. While the government does provide bursaries to students for disadvantaged backgrounds, not all students that require funding receive it.


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