- Students who don't qualify for financial aid from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme could be eligible for loans, according to Minister Blade Nzimande.
- Nzimande said a Ministerial Task Team and other higher education stakeholders agreed on recommendations to diversify funding for students, including those in the "missing middle".
- He said the plan would be sustainable and affordable.
Students at higher learning institutions who don't qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) assistance could be eligible for loans.
This was one of the recommendations of a Ministerial Task Team (MTT) that met with Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister Blade Nzimande to discuss diversifying funding for students from different backgrounds.
Nzimande said on Friday that after reviewing existing funding models for the "missing middle," the MTT agreed to develop a 10-year plan that would be sustainable and affordable.
"A comprehensive model should incorporate loan funding options for students in the missing middle. Apart from the existing scholarships and bursaries available to these students, a fully comprehensive model must include a loan component," Nzimande said.
He added that the plan should detail transitional arrangements to ensure the success of the new model.
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Students from poor and working-class backgrounds will receive funding until it is fully fledged.
The MTT also agreed that the model should be phased in and that it should allow for the establishment of an independent entity that would be responsible for loan management.
"The proposed ideal model is a wholesale lending scheme, which draws on a range of funding sources and requires establishing an independent entity to manage the loans," he said.
Students in the "missing middle" category who require funding for the 2023 academic year, could get commercial bank loans, he said, adding that "the government should explore the possibility of a government guarantee".
"This would allow for the funding of missing middle students in particular, ideally from 2023 onwards, and also test the take-up of such loans while other loan models are explored," he said.