The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) is a bursary scheme that was initially established as a pilot program to address the issue of the missing-middle students who could not meet NSFAS funding requirements,
It's important for potential applicants to understand more about the bursary scheme. The Careers Portal caught up with ISFAP’s Regional Project Manager, Sifanele Biyela for more insights on what the bursary has to offer as well as institutions that they are currently working with.
ISFAP operates with the main objective of ensuring they get as many graduates through the tertiary education system, as an entity that currently only offers funding for first-time graduates.
Biyela also points out that ISFAP does have plans to provide funding to more than just first-time graduates in future.
There definitely are plans for this to change in future because, ideally, you would want to afford this opportunity to as many students studying towards their first qualification as possible. But funding also becomes a factor, so for now [the aim] when ISFAP created was to produce as many first time graduates as possible
In terms of size and scope, ISFAP is currently working at 11 out of the country’s 26 public universities, and the funding is for the most driven by occupations in high demand as well as a mixture of historically disadvantaged institutions and those that are thriving.
Will ISFAP expand the list of Universities they fund?
Currently, there are no plans to expand into other institutions in the short term, however, ISFAP remains optimistic about their objective and hopes to gain more support and funding in order to expand into other institutions.
In order to avoid appearing selective in their program, Biyale says that ISFAP must carefully consider the financial situation of the country as a whole. This means being realistic about what is sustainable and affordable, and not expecting short-term expansion at the moment.
What are ISFAP's plans for course expansion?
The courses funded by ISFAP will change as it is based on occupations that are in high demand. Biyale referenced the increasing popularity of AI, data science, and data analysis, and continued to emphasise that changes are inevitable when it comes to courses.
ISFAP will continue to add courses and change courses as the organization is driven by funding requirements. They have recently added some data science and data analysis courses in response to the fourth industrial revolution,
in response to developments in artificial intelligence.
The courses that ISFAP covers are vast in scope but when broken down in terms of higher learning institutions, some of them include those in the following faculties:
- Health Sciences (including MBChB, Occupational Therapy and Pharmacy to name a few)
- Engineering (All courses)
- Economic and Management Sciences (Accounting, Management Accounting, Data Science and BSc Information Science and BA Information Systems)
- Natural Sciences (Chemistry, BSc Actuarial Sciences)
ISFAP also recommends that applicants look up some of the other causes that the cover on their website when submitting their online applications.
Applicants are advised to submit bursary applications within the period that applications open, as ISFAP will not accept any late applications.