Minister Unveils Progress on New Student Funding Model. Throughout the academic year of 2023, discussions and debates surrounding the future of student funding have been widespread. Minister Blade Nzimande, in a recent briefing on the future of NSFAS funding, disclosed the government’s upcoming plans for alternative student funding methods.
Briefing on NSFAS Future: September 19, 2023
Minister Blade Nzimande, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, addressed the media on September 19, 2023, shedding light on the future of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). During this briefing, the Minister hinted at potential alternative funding approaches the government is considering.
Advancements in 2023 Academic Year
The 2023 academic year has witnessed several advancements within NSFAS, including the introduction of a new accommodation cap for student accommodations, a 5% inflation-linked increase in student allowances, and a 10% increase in living allowances.
Questions Arise on New Funding Alternative
Following the announcement of an alternative funding model to NSFAS, inquiries have surfaced regarding its implementation. Responding to questions posed by Ms. N. N. Chirwa, Minister Nzimande provided further insights into the operational aspects of the new fund.
The New Funding Model: Addressing the ‘Missing Middle’
Minister Nzimande outlined that funding for the initiative would be derived from the National Skills Fund (NSF), Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETA’s), Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) Code 300 skills, and banks. The funding model aims to assist students categorized as the ‘Missing Middle,’ referring to those whose families do not qualify for NSFAS funding but lack the financial means to self-fund their education. Eligible students in this bracket must demonstrate an accumulated household income ranging between R350,000 and R600,000.
Supporting the ‘Missing Middle’
The Comprehensive Student Funding Model aims to provide financial aid to the approximately 11% of university students falling into the ‘Missing Middle’ category. As of November 2023, it appears that the planning for this funding model is reaching its final stages, with Minister Nzimande expressing satisfaction that the Comprehensive Student Funding Model is in the process of being finalized by Cabinet. The Minister promised to provide more details on this development in the near future.