South Africa 13.12.2016 12:25 am

Dept launches pilot model to help fund ‘missing middle’ students

Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria. Picture: Christine Vermooten

Students of various institutions and organisations sing and dance in the streets of Pretoria. Picture: Christine Vermooten

The proposed Ikusasa Student Financial Aid programme (ISFAP) model will be piloted at six universities and one TVET college in 2017.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on Monday said all institutions of higher learning are faced with the task of implementing cost-cutting measures to ensure their sustainability.

“This is an interim measure as longer term solution to higher education funding is still being sought,” chairperson of the social protection, community and human development cluster, Minister Bathabile Dlamini, on Monday said.

She was addressing the media on the progress they have made towards improving the living conditions of South Africans.

Dlamini said: “The DHET takes note of the recent decision by some universities around the country, including the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Stellenbosch with the 8% capped fee adjustments for 2017.

“Based on the government subsidy funding model for universities, the department has calculated that some institutions may experience a shortfall in income in the 2017 academic year due to the 0% fee adjustment in 2016 and the compounded effect of inflation.”

She added that although the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has done much to deal with the problem of funding to support poor students, the remaining challenge is that working and middle class income students cannot be fully funded.

The minister said a review of NSFAS in 2010 have culminated in the proposal of Ikusasa Student Financial Aid programme (ISFAP) model which will be piloted at six universities and one TVET college in 2017. The pilot will fund the studies of around 2 000 students for the duration of their studies.

“The lessons learnt from this pilot, the comments received from the public consultation process, the results of the feasibility study and the recommendations of the Presidential Fees commission, will feed into the development of the final model.

Meanwhile marking of the national senior certificate papers is currently underway in 140 marking centres around the country. The results will be released on January 5 2017.

Dlamini said to minimise depression, trauma and possible suicide incidents amongst grade 12 pupils, they called upon parents and caregivers to look for changes in the behaviour of their children and to give them support and encourage them to go back to school.

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