Government has approved a trial period for the introduction of a mixed funding scheme for the “missing middle” student income group in 2017.
A pilot project would be implemented at various universities and one Technical and Vocational Education and Training college in 2017 to test certain aspects of the model, the higher education department said in a recent statement.
The pilot project would run parallel to a feasibility study of the model. The “missing middle” is defined as students with an annual household income below R600 000.
For the pilot, the ministerial task team had set a target of R200m for approximately 2 000 students studying towards scarce skills professions.
These included medicine, pharmacology, actuarial sciences, engineering, chartered accountancy, artisan courses like welding and plumbing, and courses in the humanities and general sciences.
Students from very poor backgrounds would receive fully subsidised funding. Students from poor and middle-income families would receive funding split between grants, loans, and family contributions.
The project supported increased academic assistance for students to ensure that drop-out rates decrease.
If the trial period is successful, the department plans to incorporate the current National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) into the new model.
In November, a ministerial task team recommended to the Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training (Fees Commission) that government provide free higher education to financially deserving students.[Source: News24]