Government is delivering on its promise to ensure free higher education for qualifying students.
Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor says South Africa is able to afford bursaries for children of poor and working class families entering universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges in 2018.
Minister Pandor said it is the country’s duty to support the poor and most vulnerable families.
"Government has invested an additional R7.166 billion to fund bursaries for children of poor and working class families entering universities and technical and vocational education and training TVET colleges this year."
Minister Pandor confirmed that R4.581 billion has been set aside for qualifying university students and R2.585 billion is for TVET college students.
In 2017 government announced that higher education will be free for poor students and those who come from families that earn a gross combined annual income of up to R350 000.
The students are supported through an expanded bursary scheme which replaces the previous loan and partial bursary scheme which was offered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
“The baseline allocation to NSFAS to support poor and working-class university and TVET students will increase from R9.849 billion in 2017/18 to R35.321 billion in 2020/21.
“This implies a need for improved efficiency and systems development at the NSFAS. We have therefore allocated an additional R105 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework to assist the NSFAS to increase and strengthen its administrative capacity,” the Minister said.
Qualifying students, in all years of study who are registered for national certificates (vocational) and Report 191 programmes at any public TVET college - will receive a bursary to cover their tuition fee and learning materials.
The increase in funding for 2018/19 will ensure that 458 875 students receive bursaries.
About 50 480 TVET college students who meet the requirements for travel, accommodation and meals, will also be supported while another 82 600 will qualify for transport allowances.
The Minister said the new funding allocation is expected to support approximately 83 200 of the 208 000 spaces (40 percent) available for new entrants at universities in 2018.