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South Africa: Higher Education Ministerial Task Team Makes Progress
Source: www.sanews.gov.za
Source Date: Monday, December 12, 2016
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government
Country: South Africa
Created: Dec 12, 2016

“The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme makes various recommendations that are currently under consideration for implementation. The proposed model and recommendations contained in the report will go a long way in not only addressing the funding problems faced by poor and “missing middle” students, but also in addressing other challenges which South Africa faces,” said Cabinet in a statement following its meeting on 1 and 2 November.
The challenges facing South Africa include reducing the high dropout rates of poor and working class students in the higher education and training sector; improving the employability of the funded graduates; improving the skills profile of the country, and improving the partnership between government, the private sector and higher education institutions in supporting poor and missing middle students.
The ISFAP blueprint provides poor and missing middle students financial assistance to cover the full cost of study.
While recommending fully subsidised education to the poor in the form of bursaries and grants, Cabinet said ISFAP also proposes progressively reducing bursaries and grants to the missing middle students as household income increases. ISFAP sketches scenarios of how this can be achieved by mobilising funds from both the public and private sectors.
Cabinet welcomed the additional R17 billion that has been allocated to universities in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) over the next three years, saying it will help to further ease the burden on financially needy and missing middle students.
The MTBPS was tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on 26 October.
“This funding will also ensure that more students are able to access higher education, as R9.2 billion of this funding will be allocated to National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS),” said Cabinet.
It said the immediate priority now is to support all efforts to save the 2016 academic programme. 
“Now is the time to end all protests, return to class and complete the academic year without further delays. Government believes that dialogue to address the demands of students can take place, while the academic programme is underway,” Cabinet said.
It reaffirmed the right to protest, but said this must be done within the confines of the law and in a manner that does not infringe on the rights of others.
Financial Statistics of Higher Education Institutions 2015 report
Statistics South Africa recently released the Financial Statistics of Higher Education Institutions 2015 report, which shows that student enrolment in higher education grew by 32.5% from 2006 to 2015.
Grants by national government to higher education increased by 144% over a 10- year period from 2006 to 2015. 
The report shows that government grants and tuition fees account for the bulk of university income, with government spending accounting for 43% of university income and tuition fees accounting for 34%.
“These findings demonstrate government’s commitment to education and reaffirm our call for those who can afford to pay their fair share, and reveals that tuition fees remain an important part of overall funding,” said Cabinet.
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