Why Government Is Working On A New Student Funding Model


With institutions of Higher Education increasing the cost of tuition and registration fees every year, thousands of students have trouble securing funding to pay for their fees. Government has revealed plans that aim to address this.



Although the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has made significant progress in providing financial aid to disadvantaged students across the country, not all students are eligible for government funding.

Earlier this year Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande stated that his department was working toward developing an alternative comprehensive funding model for both university and TVET college students in South Africa.

Nzimande says that the new funding model will include support for missing middle students, as well as those whose families can afford fees for tertiary education.

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 those students who come from working-class households that do not qualify for funding from the government while at the same time, they cannot afford higher education.

In order to assist missing middle students, Nzimande affirmed that within the funding model his department will avail loans and bursaries to missing middle students and direct these efforts toward students located within the scarce skills categories.

To gain some insight on the significance of funding missing middle students, Careers Portal spoke to Sifanele Biyela from the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP).

ISFAP was established to provides comprehensive funding for missing middle students at participating universities enrolled in scarce skills programmes. 

As pioneers in funding for missing middle students, Biyela says they welcome any platform that aims to assist missing middle students.

In 2017 when the task team came together and said, "We have an issue, missing middle students feel left out, there's a gap there, we need as much support in there". That's how ISFAP was born, so if an opportunity arises for that objective to then be more widespread, it's okay.

She says that governments efforts to include missing middle students are a step in the right direction. “Whether government funding comes on board and plans to assist or just by allowing students to take out loans," adds Biyela.

Applications for the 2024 ISFAP bursary are currently open and is set to close in October 2023, students who meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply for funding.

The bursary covers all tuition costs, accommodation costs, travel costs as well as stipend and money for books and meals.


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ISFAP application website

Students who fall within the missing middle category should take note that the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme will soon open funding applications for the 2024 academic year. It is important for students to be enrolled in approved courses in order to be eligible for funding.





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