Nzimande’s Proposed Changes to NSFAS Funding Model. Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande is advocating for a significant shift in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding model. The proposed changes aim to address the financial needs of the “missing middle” students who fall outside the current eligibility criteria.
Cabinet Approval for Next Phase
Recently, Minister Nzimande announced that the Cabinet has approved the next phase of a funding model specifically targeting the “missing middle.” These students belong to households that can afford tertiary education expenses but do not meet NSFAS’s financial requirements.
Program-Based Funding Proposal
One key aspect of the proposed changes is to base funding on the academic programs students are enrolled in. Minister Nzimande emphasizes the importance of aligning funding with programs that are considered scarce-skill programs, potentially affecting students in other disciplines.
Concerns and Feasibility Questions
While addressing the financial needs of the missing middle is crucial, concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the proposed changes. Some question whether a significant overhaul of the NSFAS funding model is necessary and whether it can effectively accommodate the diverse academic pursuits of students.
Prioritizing Degrees Aligned with Economic Needs
Minister Nzimande further advocates for prioritizing funding based on specific degrees, programs, and certificates that align with the economic needs of the country. This approach aims to address the skills gap and ensure that funding is directed towards areas crucial for national development.
Corruption as the Real Challenge at NSFAS
In contrast to the proposed changes, Professor Jonathan Jansen from Stellenbosch University argues that the real issue lies in addressing corruption within NSFAS. Jansen contends that by efficiently tackling corruption, NSFAS can secure ample funds to cover a comprehensive spectrum of academic pursuits, including humanities degrees.
The Evolving Nature of Skills and Technology
Jansen emphasizes the evolving nature of skills required by the workforce, citing the emergence of artificial intelligence as an example. They argue that predicting the skills needed in the future is challenging and highlight the importance of not defunding humanities degrees, which contribute to foundational values in human existence.
Humanities Degrees and the Fight Against Corruption
Jansen illustrates the importance of humanities by suggesting that an art history student addressing human rights issues should receive funding alongside an AI student. They assert that the central issue is corruption within NSFAS and that tackling this challenge would secure funds for a diverse range of academic pursuits.