The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will be allocated a R49bn budget in the 2022/23 financial year.
Delivering his 2022/23 Budget Vote on Thursday, Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande, said the allocation affirms government’s commitment to financially support students from poor and working class backgrounds, “whilst also putting a sustainable mechanism in place to support students from the so-called ‘missing middle’ and postgraduate students”.
Nzimande said the National Skills Fund will also provide budget support for scholarships and bursaries for the 2022/23 financial year amounting to R866m.
The figure is made up of R221m to the National Research Foundation (NRF), R527m to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), R80m to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and R37.9m to the DHET Internal Scholarship.
Collectively, the Minister said, Sector Education and Training Authorities (SETAs) spent R701.9m in support of the missing middle students.
He said various bursaries and loan schemes administered within institutions are another source of funding.
“As part of the development of our Comprehensive Student Funding model ... we are engaging both the public and private components of the financial sector to come up with a funding model to support students in the ‘Missing middle’ income bracket and post graduate students who cannot secure funding from the National Research Foundation”.
Nzimande said the Ministerial Task Team is already engaging the Banking Association of South Africa and significant progress had been made in this regard.
The Ministerial Task Team is expected to present its final report to the Minister by the end of May this year.
Improving the sector
Across the 26 universities, over the 2022/23 and 2023/24 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), there is a R7.584bn budget, with R2.953bn going towards student housing for the delivery of 16,858 beds across 11 universities.
Of these, 15,898 are new beds and 960 are refurbished beds.
Nzimande acknowledged that more needs to be done.
“Clearly R2.953bn is inadequate for student accommodation, therefore we will seek private sector partnerships, including those already indicating they are investing on their own."
The ministry, Nzimande said, will in the current financial year explore feasibility studies on the new science and innovation universities and a crime detection institution to the value of R6m.
He said he had revitalised and expanded the Imbali Education and Innovation Precinct project as a pilot to explore and test an alternative modality of education delivery, based on closer multi-educational institutional co-operation and closer articulation, with science and innovation linkages.
This integration, Nzimande said, will ensure that the country produces a well-rounded student, ready to take up positions within the country’s economy and society.
For this project, R90m will be allocated during the fourth Infrastructure and Efficiency Grant (IEG) cycles.
For the current MTEF, an allocation of R182.11m has been recommended.
The next precinct to be established will be in Giyani, Limpopo, where a university campus will be set up.
Government has set aside R10m for the expansion and relocation of the University of Zululand teacher training faculty to the former Zululand Parliamentary Precinct at Ulundi.
“We are also building the Sekhukhune Skills Development Centre to the value of R146.9m, through our Wholesale and Retail SETA, in collaboration with the Sekhukhune TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] College,” Nzimande said.
In the current financial year, the department had added a number of campus level projects to the TVET infrastructure initiative, with a R2.9bn value.
The ministry had a R130.1bn budget in the 2022/23 financial year.