NSFAS Students Perform Better Than Non-Funded Students

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Since its establishment, millions of disadvantaged students have been funded through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. NSFAS funded students also appear to be consistently outperforming students not receiving financial aid. 

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Millions of lower-income and previously disadvantaged students wishing to pursue tertiary education have received funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

NSFAS is a highly sought-after bursary scheme in which lower-income students can receive money to fund their university or college studies. There are a number of criteria applicants have to meet, such as receiving a household income of less than R350 000 per year, as well as meeting the entry requirements of the institution to which they are applying. 

Each year, the bursary scheme receives over a million applications from students wanting to further their education. In 2023 alone, NSFAS received over 1.5 million applications from deserving students, of which approximately 900 000 were granted funding.

A lack of space at public institutions and not meeting the eligibility criteria can account for the students who did not receive funding. 

In an interview with PowerFM on Wednesday, the Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, weighed in on the number of students receiving funding and the positive effects this bursary scheme has had.

Roughly 60% of South African university students receive funding from NSFAS, and more than 90% of Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) students are funded. The Minister states that this really shows how far the country has come with regards to opening the doors to access to education. 

Nzimande further goes on to add that NSFAS-funded university students are performing much better than non-funded students. The pass rate is just over 70% for students receiving financial aid as opposed to just over 60% for students not on NSFAS.

While these figures are still concerning, it is a step in the right direction and shows that the money used to fund underprivileged students is going to good use. 

South Africa's average university dropout rate is currently sitting at 32,4%, while the dropout rate for funded students is only 20,8%. The higher pass rate of NSFAS students can be attributed to the lower dropout rate among them. 

They do not need to be pitied, they just need to be supported and they will shine, just like these figures actually show.

The Minister feels that we should not assume that poorer students will underperform in comparison to students who have other means of affording their education. If deserving students are given the opportunity, they have the ability to achieve and do well at higher education institutions, just like their more privileged counterparts. 

As higher education becomes more accessible to lower and middle-class students, we can expect to see a substantial increase in the number of university and TVET enrolments, as well as the number of applications NSFAS receives each year. 

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higher education minister blade nzimande

As the year gets underway, students register and higher education institutions open their applications for the next year's intake. Now, the Department of Higher Education aims to have over 1 million students enrolled in higher education institutions by 2030.

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