The Department of Higher Education and Training has left it to universities to decide whether to register students with historical debt who are not funded by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Students who do not qualify for NSFAS assistance and cannot pay their own fees, referred to as the "missing middle", received a zero percent fee increase in 2017. The department convinced institutions to allow deserving students from poor backgrounds to register. Higher Education and Training director-general Gwebinkundla Qonde told Business Day the government would protect poor and working-class families. "If you are not [funded by the] NSFAS you are accounted for in terms of zero-fee adjustments," Qonde said. The "missing-middle" students had to pay their outstanding fees up to 2015. Talks were being held to arrange with "missing-middle" students on how their debt should be repaid. These students would be absolved from 2016 fee increases. "For 2017, they again have a zero per...

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