Plans afoot to assist “missing middle” students
Plans are on track to support students from “missing middle” backgrounds through the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) says National Education Collaboration Trust co-founder Sizwe Nxasana.
Nxasana who stepped down as chair of National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) last year, founded and chairs the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme.
The ISFAP’s founding members are Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA), the Association for Savings and Investments SA (ASISA), the Banking Association, the
South African Institute of Chartered Accountants and the FirstRand Foundation.
Speaking at Unleashing Leadership Potential (ULP), an organisation that provides ethical leadership programmes for young professionals and entrepreneurs in Midrand,
Nxasana said the ISFAP was aimed at addressing the financial aid challenges many university students in the so-called “missing middle” face.
“These are students who come from household with incomes ranging between R350,000 and R600,000. They fall outside the NSFAS qualification threshold of up to
R350,000 household income,” he said.
Nxasana said ISFAP was committed to improving the success rate of funded students through appropriate financial aid and wrap-around support. He said ISFAP was also focussing on producing priority skills such as engineers, actuaries, data scientists, medical doctors, accountants and other professionals.
“Government cannot address the challenges of funding students who come from poor and working-class backgrounds alone. It is important for the private sector to partner with government to address the challenges of inequality, unemployment and poverty”.
Nxasana said the ISFAP which has provided funding to 1,700 students at 11 universities in the past three years hopes to grow and fund up to 200,000 students in the next few years.
“ISFAP had achieved a 90% pass rate, due to proper funding and wrap-around support structure for students.”
He said there was an urgent need for skills in the country and ensure that young people were fully prepared for their studies in order to obtain degrees.
“There is also a need to go beyond just obtaining the degree but to ensure that once they graduate, they are employable and capable of starting their own businesses,” said Nxasana.
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