£240m pot for hard-up

February 10, 2006

Stung by criticism over corruption and a failure to deliver basic services, South Africa's Government has announced a record R2.6 billion (£240 million) for bursaries and loans for poor students.

Naledi Pandor, Education Minister, announced that in 2006 more than R1.3 billion would be available to "large numbers of academically able but financially needy students" through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. The bursaries and loans are administered by South Africa's 23 universities. Another R1.3 billion has been raised by other government departments, companies, local and international foundations and universities Last year, the NSFAS supported 110,000 students with awards worth R1.3 billion - the first time it had disbursed more than R1 billion.

Alan Taylor, chief executive officer of the scheme, said that last year was also the first in which loan recovery rose to more than R1 billion. Loan repayment is secured through employers once graduates find jobs.

The Government's commitment to student aid has helped to transform the student population: two thirds of a total 730,000 students are now black.

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