Funding Model To Support Missing Middle Is Being Finalised


Annually, tuition fees increase and this poses a challenge to students who fall in the missing middle students, who are without funding. Fortunately, the Higher Education sector has come up with means to help alleviate the burden and stress that comes with not having funding options.




The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) received about a million funding applications for the 2023 academic year, and the majority of applications were submitted from students in the KwaZulu-Natal province.

The government bursary funds students who have a combined household income of not more than R350 000 per annum, whilst students who are living with a disability are required to have a total combined household income of not more than R600 000 per annum.

Although over the years Nsfas has managed to fund a great number of students, on the other hand, students who fall into the missing middle category do not qualify for the bursary.

Some experts had called on the Higher Education sector and its stakeholders to look for a funding model that will help benefit this group of students. Recently, the Department of Higher Education and Training Minister (DHET) Dr. Blade Nzimande's announcement:

The issue of the missing middle is being finalised within the Comprehensive Funding Model process. 

According to the department’s Acting Deputy Director-General: Universities, Education and Training, Thandi Lewin, as part of the long-term development of a new, comprehensive student funding policy, the government should explore the establishment of a loan scheme to support “missing middle” students in accessing higher education and training.

Nzimande has also reiterated that the department is currently working within the policy framework, and will avail loans and bursaries and direct these efforts toward students located within the scarce skills categories.

This comes after the department had been probed whether the private sector, particularly private banks, would be approached to provide loans to ‘missing middle’ students to fund their tertiary education.

For the loan scheme to be implemented, thorough planning and time will be needed, in a parliamentary meeting the department had been asked to come up with an interim plan to help fund the missing middle students.




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