Feb 2024 1st edition

Nzimande announces R3.8bn funding for missing middle students

Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Professor Blade Nzimande, has revealed that government has set aside a R3.8 billion initial capitalisation fund to support “missing middle” students.

The new Comprehensive Student Funding Model aims to support students including those currently not supported by the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary and funding policy. 

Minister Nzimande recently addressed the media in Pretoria. He said the funding model is divided into two phases.

Phase one begins this year, 2024/2025, with the State committing the initial capitalisation fund totalling R3.8 billion to support the loan scheme. 

This amount comprises R1.5 billion from the National Skills Fund (NSF) and R2.3 billion from Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs). 

“This amount will fund 47% of the missing middle students, that is, 31 884 of the estimated 68 446 missing middle,” he said. 

“We have also committed funds to revive NSFAS information and communications technology systems, including the loan system.”

On implementing the scheme, he said his department has so far consulted with the National Treasury, university Vice-Chancellors and student leaders. 

“Further workshops will be held with the registrars and student financial officers once NSFAS has obtained Board approval for the funding guidelines.”

“Together with the National Treasury, we will continue to engage with relevant institutions, including public and private financial institutions to expand the scheme.” 

To qualify for the loan, students should meet the following criteria:

  • Students whose annual household income is between R350 000 to R600 000;
  • Admitted Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and public university students;
  • Undergraduate or postgraduate students;
  • Seventy percent science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programmes (which may be adjusted to include commercial programmes that are in demand in the labour market or entrepreneurial programmes);
  • Thirty percent Humanities programmes; 
  • Students willing to sign a loan agreement;
  • Students can apply for the loan in the first, second or third year to continue to be funded through the loan; 
  • Students are expected to get an average of 60% pass rate and the loan will cover tuition, learning material and accommodation; 
  • Students who obtain 70% or above on average and within the prescribed time will get a 50% reduction on loans on request.

Nzimande has described this move as another important milestone in the commitments of government to advance a better life for all as South Africa celebrates 30 years of freedom.

The loan scheme will be administered by NSFAS.  –SAnews.gov.za

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