Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande says significant strides are being made in the development Comprehensive Student Funding model. The minister said a clear proposal on the funding policy will be submitted to Cabinet by the end of 2023.
The minister was speaking during the launch of the National Plan for Post-School Education and Training (NPPSET) on 7 September 2023. The NPPSET was launched to improve and transform post-school education and training in South Africa.
The minister explained that the proposal is based on extensive consultations with financial institutions, student organisations, university and TVET College leaders, and international benchmarking.
I am glad that we are making significant strides in our mission of consolidating the student funding policy in the sector ... I will be submitting a clear proposal on a Comprehensive Student Funding Policy to Cabinet before the end of the year.
Nzimande previously explained that the funding model will seek to assist students who currently do not meet the eligibility criteria to receive the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary. A major component of this will be assisting students who form part of the Missing Middle.
Through this, we aim to introduce measures to specifically support categories of students in the so-called missing middle-income groups who are unable to access NSFAS funding.
The model will also seek to provide loans to missing middle students and direct these efforts toward students located within the scarce skills categories.
On student funding in relation to this issue, we are now working towards the finalisation of a new comprehensive funding model. We aim through this to also introduce measures to support all the categories of students, including those who are not supported by the current NSFAS funding policy.
The “missing middle” refers to students who come from households that exceed the NSFAS household income threshold but cannot afford the costs associated with higher education studies.
Expanding Post-School Sector In South Africa
The NPPSET also seeks to expand access to South Africa's Post-School Education Sector. A major component of this is providing funding to students who would not be able to obtain tertiary education qualifications due to financial constraints.
NSFAS plays a critical role in expanding access as they provide comprehensive bursaries to students from poor and working-class backgrounds. NSFAS bursaries include tuition fees, registration fees as well as money for meals, accommodation and learning materials.
In 2023, NSFAS will provide comprehensive bursaries to more than one million students with their R47 Billion budget. This is a far cry from 1991 when NSFAS had a budget of R21.4 million allocated to the first cohort of about 7,000 students
We are proud to say that NSFAS is currently funding 1.1 million students with a budget allocation of R47,6 billion in the 2023 academic year. This represents an unprecedented growth in investment in our educational future.
Nzimande revealed that 49% of students currently being funded by NSFAS were beneficiaries of the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa).