NSFAS expands access to higher education

NSFAS expands access to higher education

Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande says tremendous progress has been made in making higher education more accessible to the poor through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) over the years.
NSFAS expands access to higher education

The Minister was briefing media on Thursday, in Pretoria, on Higher Education and Training Sector’s state of readiness and on options available to young people seeking opportunities for Post-School Education and Training (PSET) in 2025.

He said NSFAS has funded over 1.7 million students since 1994. In 2016, NSFAS supported approximately 480,000 poor undergraduate students to access universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

NSFAS also disbursed loans and bursaries totalling R14 billion to students in 2016.

During the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, government announced that it will provide an additional R9 billion for NSFAS over the period ahead, raising its funding by over 18% to universities over the next three years to assist poor and missing middle students.

This year, Minister Nzimande said NSFAS will be funding 205,000 first time entering and continuing eligible students at universities and 200,000 students at TVET colleges in 2025 by providing student loans and bursaries totalling R15.2 billion.

He also said government will pay the fee increase, capped at 8%, for all qualifying registered students with a gross combined family income up to R600,000 per annum in 2025.

“This is a grant, which covers the increases for tuition fees and university or college-managed accommodation, and will not have to be repaid by qualifying students.

“This will benefit more than 75% of university and TVET college students, and in some institutions, more than 90% of students.”

He said NSFAS qualifying students will not pay any registration or upfront fees in 2025, as government has made arrangements through NSFAS to pay the registration fees for all funded students as an upfront payment to universities and TVET colleges in January each year.

All NSFAS qualifying students, who were registered in 2016, and were successful in their studies, but who have accumulated historical student debt with institutions of higher education, will be allowed to register in 2025.

Interventions for the missing middle

The Minister has requested universities to manage student debt through fair and transparent debt management policies in order to ensure that outstanding student debt is recovered over a reasonable period.

He said the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme model, which is aimed at assisting the missing middle, will be piloted at six universities and one TVET college.

The pilot will fund the studies of approximately 1,500 students studying in a number of general formative degrees as well as seven professional qualifications and one artisan qualification for the duration of their studies.

“It is also important to note that in addition to the money that NSFAS has received from the funds voted by Parliament, the National Skills Fund (NSF) makes further annual allocations aimed at funding the full cost of study towards critical skills programmes that are most needed for the growth and development of the economy.

“NSFAS has been allocated over R718 million for full bursaries for scarce and critical skills for the current year from the NSF.

“This funding is made available through the financial aid offices at institutions, and students wishing to make use of these bursaries are advised to enrol for critical skills study programmes which include science, commerce, health sciences and engineering.”

He also said NSFAS has earmarked R76.6 million in the 2025 academic year to provide financial aid to disabled students in universities.


Overview of Public Universities in South Africa

Here's an overview of some public universities in South Africa, including general admissions requirements and estimated application periods. Keep in mind, specific program requirements and dates can vary significantly, so it's important to check each university's official website for the most current information.

University of Pretoria

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with minimum scores in specific subjects related to the chosen program; for international students, equivalent qualifications.
  • Application Period: Usually opens in March and closes at the end of July for most programs.

University of Cape Town

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with pass levels required for degree study; subject-specific requirements depending on the program.
  • Application Period: Application opens in April and closes at the end of July.

Stellenbosch University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required marks; some programs have additional testing.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and typically closes at the end of June.

University of the Witwatersrand

  • Admissions Requirements: Matriculation certificate with university exemption; required scores vary by faculty.
  • Application Period: Begins in March and ends on the 30th of September.

University of Johannesburg

  • Admissions Requirements: Matric exemption with a minimum APS score; specific subject requirements based on the faculty.
  • Application Period: Opens in April and generally closes by the 30th of September.

University of the Free State

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific marks for the program applied to; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Typically opens in April and closes at the end of August.

University of Venda

  • Admissions Requirements: Completion of the National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for diploma or degree studies; specific APS scores needed.
  • Application Period: Usually from May to September.

University of Fort Hare

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; certain programs may have specific requirements.
  • Application Period: Opens around May and closes at the end of September.

University of the Western Cape

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific performance levels; additional requirements for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Generally from May to September.

North-West University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with university exemption; program-specific requirements may apply.
  • Application Period: Opens in March and usually closes by the end of August.

Rhodes University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate or equivalent; minimum academic performance in certain subjects.
  • Application Period: Applications open in April and close at the end of September.

Nelson Mandela University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; portfolio or additional tests for some faculties.
  • Application Period: Opens in April, with a deadline at the end of August for most programs.

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores; additional requirements for certain courses.
  • Application Period: Opens in May and typically closes by the end of September.

University of Limpopo

  • Admissions Requirements: Senior Certificate with endorsement for diploma or degree courses; specific APS scores for different programs.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

University of Zululand

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with an endorsement for bachelor’s degree studies; specific score requirements for various programs.
  • Application Period: Usually between April and November.

Central University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with specific scores for the chosen field of study; additional criteria for certain programs.
  • Application Period: Application period generally starts in May and ends in October.

Vaal University of Technology

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with a pass that qualifies for admission to bachelor’s degree, diploma, or higher certificate programs.
  • Application Period: Typically from May to September.

Walter Sisulu University

  • Admissions Requirements: National Senior Certificate with required scores for chosen programs; additional criteria for certain faculties.
  • Application Period: From April to September.

This list provides a starting point for understanding the admissions landscape across South Africa's diverse higher education institutions. Given the variability in programs and requirements, it's crucial to consult each university's website for the most accurate and up-to-date information.