Higher education and the poor in South Africa

De Villiers, Pierre (2011-09)

CITATION: De Villiers, P. 2011. Higher Education and the Poor in South Africa. Unpublished paper delivered at The Economic Society of South Africa. 7 September, Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch University.

ESSA 2011. Biennial Conference of The Economic Society of South Africa, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch, South Africa, 5-7 September 2011.

The programme is available at http://www.essa2011.org.za/

Conference Paper

INTRODUCTION: In the old dispensation the majority of students attending Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) were white. For example, in 1980 74.8% of students were white and only 12.5% were black (de Villiers, 1996: 359). After the first democratic election in 1994 a definite effort was made to ensure that more students of ‘colour’ attend HEIs. However, the cost of attending HEIs over time increased substantially and made affordability of attending these institutions a big issue, especially for the poor. One of the problems that HEIs encountered was that the real state appropriation (subsidy) per student decreased quite considerably over time. To balance their books HEIs increased tuition fees by more than the inflation rate which made affordability for the poor even more problematic. Therefore specific efforts were made to make higher education for the poor more affordable. The introduction of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) scheme was one such initiative. This paper looks at the history of NSFAS since its introduction in the middle 1990s and how it grew and developed over time. It will be discussed who qualifies for a NFSAS award and the requirements that must be met. The demographic profile of the students that received funding will be highlighted as well as the success of students that received NSFAS awards.

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