The ANC has committed to developing a programme to fund the so-called ‘missing middle’ at higher institutions.
This was said during an ANC media briefing held by a subcommittee on education, health, science and technology.
Committee chairperson, Naledi Pandor, said their main challenge remained the ‘missing middle’. The missing middle refers to students above the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) threshold but for whom university education is unaffordable.
She said NSFAS was putting in place a process to develop a new funding model to provide loans for students in this category and that the new funding model would be tested in the 2017 academic year for full implementation in 2018.
Pandor said the NSFAS would receive an additional R4.5bn from state funding over and above the R10bn already allocated for this academic year.
Meanwhile at a University of Johannesburg press briefing, Gauteng university vice chancellors said they would assist students from the ‘missing middle’ category.
Sefako Makgatho Health Science University vice chancellor, Professor Chris de Beer, said all Gauteng universities had made special arrangements to assist students who fell into this category.
“I am aware that all the institutions have made special arrangements to cater for that particular category. The basic principle is for those students performing academically, we will never exclude them for financial reasons.
“We will do everything in our power to assist those students through the various options that exist. If you perform academically we would welcome you and embrace you despite the fact that you can’t afford to pay,” De Beer said.
Several Gauteng universities suspended registration after student disruptions last week. Students were demanding free registration for all academically qualified students.
Last year students led protests across the country that began in mid-October in response to an increase in fees at South African universities. Protests started at the Wits University and spread to the University of Cape Town and Rhodes University before rapidly spreading to other universities across the country.
President Jacob Zuma eventually declared there would be no fee increases in 2016. News24