Beyond Expectations: Progression of Poor Students Through University

An article published in the most recent issue of the Helen Suzman Foundation‘s journal, Focus, with the theme Education: Overcoming and Innovation, discusses the findings of a recent study on the progress of financially supported students through South Africa’s higher education system.  The study, which was co-authored by ReSEP member and Stellenbosch University (US) Professor, Servaas van der Berg, US professor, Pierre de Villiers and US researcher, Chris van Wyk, found that more than half of all students supported by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) loans who started their post-secondary education in 2000 had obtained a tertiary qualification by 2009, with one in six students furthermore obtaining a second qualification over the period. By comparison, less than half of all unsupported students obtained at least one qualification over this period.  Van der Berg and his co-authors argue that the unexpected, but encouraging performance of NSFAS students may be a result of stronger incentives faced by supported students to complete their studies, particularly relating to the need to repay their student loans in the future.  The Focus article was also the basis for a piece published in the Business Day on the 3rd of April 2013  entitled “Student financial aid scheme ‘a success’.”