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Missing Middle School Students to Receive Government Funding

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Missing Middle School Students to Receive Government Funding

Missing Middle School Students to Receive Government Funding. University and college students received uplifting news as the Higher Education Minister unveiled a new funding scheme tailored for those who have faced challenges accessing NSFAS funds to finance their education.

The Missing Middle

Minister Blade Nzimande, in response to the growing issue, initiated a task team aimed at addressing funding gaps in the post-school education sector, particularly focusing on the ‘missing middle’ students. Comprising approximately 11% of the higher education sector, these students belong to families with an annual income ranging from R350,000 to R600,000.

Task Team Proposals

The task team’s proposals were presented to the national Cabinet in June 2022, signaling optimism that these measures would tackle recurring funding challenges during students’ re-registration.

Comparing with NSFAS

Minister Nzimande emphasized the superiority of NSFAS, distinguishing it from the concept of ‘free’ higher education prevalent in some developed countries. NSFAS not only covers tuition fees but also extends support for accommodation, books, laptops, food, and living allowances.

Financial Allocation for the New Scheme

In the initial phase (2024), the comprehensive funding model allocates R3.8 billion to support the loan scheme. This sum comprises R1.5 billion from the National Skills Fund and an additional R2.3 billion from Setas, targeting 47% of missing middle students. The Minister outlined plans for the fund’s gradual growth, anticipating a value exceeding R42 billion in the next decade.

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Scope and Application Process

The missing middle funding caters to both university and TVET college students, with a focus on public institutions. No funding will be extended to private colleges or other higher education institutions. The Minister assured that funds for missing middle students would be accessible for the 2024 academic year, with NSFAS set to announce application details within two weeks. The new scheme breaks from past NSFAS policies, accommodating both undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Conclusion

The launch of this funding scheme reflects the government’s commitment to addressing the financial barriers faced by the missing middle students, ensuring a more inclusive and accessible higher education landscape. As the program unfolds, it is anticipated to significantly impact students and contribute to the long-term development of the education sector.

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