Learnerships often form part of a formal qualification. Once the learnership is complete, students can receive a nationally recognised qualification. Some learnerships are attractive as students may receive a stipend that covers their travelling expenses and some living expenses.
However, does this impact a student's funding status from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas)? The Nsfas bursary is provided to students from poor and working-class backgrounds who study towards approved qualifications at public universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.
Will Nsfas Fund Students Who Have Learnerships?
Nsfas says students are allowed to participate in paid learnerships without it impacting their funding status. This is on the condition that the student meets the academic criteria and their income does not surpass the household income threshold which Nsfas has in place.
“As long as you meet the academic criteria, and as long as your salary does not exceed annual household threshold, this does not affect your Nsfas funding” explained Nsfas.
The N+ Rule
Nsfas academic requirements relate to the N+Rule. The N+2 rule means that students only have N+2 years to finish a degree with “N” referring to the minimum number of years allocated to achieve the qualification.
Therefore if a degree can be completed in a minimum of four years, Nsfas will fund you for the four years that you can complete the degree and the additional two years if you need to redo certain subjects or modules.
Students who no longer qualify for funding due to the N+rule, could be considered for funding if they can prove they require 60 or less course credits to complete a qualification. This is on the condition the student obtains support from the institution.
In order to qualify for Nsfas, a student must have a combined household income of less than R350 000 per annum. However, if a student is living with a disability, the combined household income threshold is R600 000 per annum.
The Learnership programme was developed in South Africa as a modern way to advance apprenticeships to meet the modern demands of the workplace. Learnerships also manage to formalise the learning and workplace experience - which is usually sadly lacking in internships offered by companies.
Another significant benefit of Learnerships over internships is that Learnerships come with a formal pay structure where learners will be paid a monthly stipend, or payment, for the time they are on the Learnership. Also, internships do not have a learning component, while Learnerships are all linked directly to a formal qualification.