Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced crucial details regarding the implementation of the first phase of a revolutionary funding model. Addressing the persistent issue of the “missing middle” students, Nzimande emphasized that immediate assistance would be extended to 47% of these students under the new comprehensive funding initiative.
During a recent update, Nzimande clarified that eligible students in the “missing middle” category would receive financial support in the form of loans. For the upcoming 2024 academic year, a substantial budget of R3.8 billion has been allocated to aid students with household incomes exceeding R350,000.
The minister outlined the collaborative efforts between the department and educational institutions to secure funding avenues for these students. “We are, of course, going to be working with universities so that those universities that can fund this are also able to assist in giving loans to the ‘missing middle’ students,” Nzimande stated.
Providing insights into the eligibility criteria for the comprehensive funding model, Nzimande highlighted its inclusivity. Both Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and university students, spanning undergraduate and postgraduate levels, will be covered. Notably, 70% of the funded students must be pursuing programs in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.
This strategic move aims to bridge financial gaps and empower a significant segment of students who have often faced challenges in accessing higher education due to financial constraints. As South Africa grapples with enhancing educational inclusivity, the implementation of this funding model reflects a proactive step towards addressing systemic issues and fostering a more equitable academic landscape.