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Nzimande Says 60% Of University Students Are Now Women



Nzimande Says 60% Of University Students Are Now Women

Nzimande Says 60% Of University Students Are Now Women. Minister Blade Nzimande, overseeing Higher Education, Science, and Innovation in South Africa, celebrated the remarkable progress made in the higher education sector during his recent speech at the State of the Nation Address (SONA) Debate. Despite acknowledging persistent challenges, Nzimande highlighted the undeniable strides in this domain.

Advancements In Higher Education Sector

Nzimande commended the African National Congress (ANC) government’s endeavors to dismantle the enduring legacies of colonialism and apartheid, particularly by enhancing access to higher education for historically marginalized groups. The minister disclosed a staggering increase in student enrollment within the post-school education and training (PSET) system, from a mere 500,000 students in 1994 to over 2 million by 2019.

Significant Demographic Shifts

Noteworthy among these statistics is the substantial rise in black student enrollment, which escalated from 49% in 1994 to a notable 71% in 2021. Equally remarkable is the surge in female representation, with women now constituting 60% of university students. In 2021 alone, nearly 1.3 million students were enrolled in both public and private higher education institutions.

Impact Of NSFAS

The Minister also extolled the pivotal role of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in fostering educational accessibility. Since its inception in 1991, NSFAS has supported over 5 million students. For the year 2024, approximately one million students are slated to benefit from NSFAS bursaries. Notably, R4.2 billion has been allocated to facilitate upfront payments for NSFAS beneficiaries, ensuring financial constraints do not impede educational pursuits.

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Addressing Financial Gaps

Recognizing the challenge posed by the “Missing Middle,” Nzimande unveiled a novel loan scheme aimed at assisting students from families with moderate incomes. This initiative includes incentives for timely completion of studies through partial loan-to-bursary conversions, further alleviating financial burdens.


Infrastructure Development Initiatives

Nzimande underscored ongoing efforts to enhance infrastructure within the sector. Notably, plans for the establishment of two new universities—a University of Science and Innovation in Ekurhuleni and a Crime Detection University in Hammanskraal—were unveiled in 2020. The creation of the Tshwane University of Technology’s Giyani campus in 2025 will further broaden educational access, particularly in Limpopo.

Combatting Gender-Based Violence

Amidst these advancements, Nzimande acknowledged the pressing issue of gender-based violence (GBV) and reiterated the government’s commitment to addressing it through policy frameworks and awareness initiatives.

International Solidarity

In his concluding remarks, Minister Nzimande reaffirmed South Africa solidarity with global causes, condemning violence in Gaza and expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Additionally, he criticized opposition parties, notably the Democratic Alliance (DA), for what he deemed regressive stances on social justice issues.


Minister Nzimande’s address underscores South Africa progress in higher education, particularly the significant rise in female enrollment. Despite challenges, the government’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity remains steadfast, promising a brighter future for all students.

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