Funding, debt and a lack of accommodation are again central to student woes. Despite the additional R5-billion budget set aside by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan for higher education in 2017, students in South Africa will struggle to make ends meet.
“A student’s success depends on access to the means to cover basic living costs as well as affordable, adequate accommodation. In more affluent universities, a first year student’s chances of passing increase from 60% to 80% if they live in residence. In lower income institutions, where pass rates can be as low as 35%, the need for good accommodation becomes even more important,” says John Schooling, Director of student accommodation group STAG African.
According to Schooling, safe, well-connected accommodation near to campus comes with a price tag of R3 500 to R8 000 per month; “With food, transport, mobile costs and limited social spend, students are looking at monthly budgets of R6 000 and up. Lower and even many middle income families are nowhere near being able to afford this,” says Schooling.
For young South Africans, post matric qualifications are a critical pathway to future financial security and social mobility. Average salaries released by Statistics South Africa and Analytico show that with higher education a young adult can boost their gross income from R4 977 with a matric certificate to R13 378 with a diploma, and R21 527 with a university degree.
“Government are making a concerted effort to address the funding problem – they have increased the threshold for student financial aid funding and recently allocated an additional R5-billion to compensate for this,” says Schooling.
Students whose family income falls under R600 000 per year are now able to qualify for some support from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), but only students who can show that their family cannot afford to give them any money are eligible for coverage of full living costs.
“There are plans in place for the securing of more funding, in particular within the private sector, but as yet, these have not delivered. For the time being, students in South Africa are facing desperate situations – and that will continue to fuel anger, frustration and attacks against the system,” says Schooling.
Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications
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On behalf of STAG African:
Director: John Schooling