14/11/2017 09:14 SAST | Updated 14/11/2017 09:14 SAST

Student Financial Aid Does Not Support Heher Report

"Free education is possible, but only to the level which the country can afford."

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The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) does not support the recommendations of the Heher Commission report on the feasibility of free higher education, the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.

"ISFAP does not support the recommendation of replacing the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) with an income contingency loan (ICL) system. ISFAP believes that NSFAS must continue to play a role in providing financial aid to students from poor and working class backgrounds. A partnership between government and the private sector can increase to provide financial aid to more financially deserving students," the statement says.

It does, however, say they support the commission's recommendation to raise the current NSFAS level of R122,000 per annual household income.

The ISFAP went on to make other recommendations:

  1. Free education is possible, but only to the level which the country can afford.
  2. Missing middle students should be funded through a mix of grants, income-contingent deferred payments (ICDP), as well as expected family contributions (EFS). The grant portion should be the largest at the beginning/earlier years of student studies and EFCs plus ICDPs only kicking in towards the end of students' studies, when they are considered more employable due to having completed most of their studies and being closer to graduation (this is versus the current NSFAS model of funding where students are saddled with a loan from year one).
  3. The partnership between the government and the private sector will also ensure that the risks of default on the income contingent deferred payments (ICDP) will be shared between the government and the private sector. This is different from the Heher commission report which proposes that government guarantees all ICLs that may not be feasible given the government's limited borrowing and guarantee capacity in the current tough economic environment.