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Students in the ‘Missing Middle’ Will Benefit from a R3.8 Billion Loan Scheme

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Students in the ‘Missing Middle’ Will Benefit from a R3.8 Billion Loan Scheme

Students in the ‘Missing Middle’ Will Benefit from a R3.8 Billion Loan Scheme. In a strategic move to address the financial challenges faced by students falling within the ‘missing middle,’ the Higher Education Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, recently unveiled a groundbreaking R3.8 billion loan scheme. This initiative aims to support students who, despite not qualifying for NSFAS funding, encounter financial barriers in pursuing higher education.

National Skills Fund and SETA

The substantial fund, totaling R3.8 billion, draws its financial backing from the National Skills Fund and the Sector Education Training Authority (SETA). This collaborative effort signifies a commitment to bridging the financial gap for students falling into the ‘missing middle’ category.

Two-Phased Funding Model

Minister Blade Nzimande, at the helm of the department, outlined a two-phased funding model designed to comprehensively address the diverse needs of students. The model emphasizes a tailored approach, acknowledging the unique challenges faced by different academic disciplines.

Focus on STEM Programs

Highlighting the urgency of the initiative, Deputy Minister Manamela revealed that 70% of the allocated funds will be directed towards students pursuing science, mathematics, and technology programs. This strategic allocation reflects a commitment to nurturing skills and expertise in crucial fields that contribute significantly to national development.

Humanities Programs Allocated 30%

In a balanced approach, the remaining 30% of the fund is earmarked for students enrolled in humanities programs. This inclusive distribution underscores the importance of supporting a wide range of academic disciplines, recognizing the diverse contributions of students across various fields.

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Collaboration with the Private Sector

Recognizing the importance of collaborative efforts, Minister Nzimande is set to lead engagements with the private sector. The aim is to foster partnerships with universities and existing loan schemes, including the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). This collaborative approach is envisioned to not only grow the fund but also address challenges that arose after NSFAS canceled its loan scheme in 2018.

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Conclusion

The unveiling of the R3.8 billion loan scheme marks a transformative step in addressing financial barriers faced by the ‘missing middle.’ With a strategic funding model, emphasis on STEM programs, and collaborative partnerships with the private sector, this initiative reflects a commitment to fostering inclusive higher education and nurturing the next generation of skilled professionals.

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