Ihron Rensburg.  Picture: SOWETAN
Ihron Rensburg. Picture: SOWETAN

The University of Johannesburg has raised R147m to fund students in the missing middle.

Missing-middle students — those too poor to fund their studies fully but too rich to qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) grants — form a significant part of the debate on free education.

The university identified about 5,000 of its academically talented students who fall into that category.

Vice-chancellor Ihron Rensburg, whose term ends in 2018, said the university exceeded its R120m target because of contributions from business and industry, the public sector, suppliers and the university’s Future Walk, which had generated R2m.

"It is encouraging to see the extraordinary goodwill that business and industry, the public sector and the general public have shown to the university and its students," Rensburg said.

"I do, though, still appeal for further contributions to this honourable cause," he said.

The average cost of studying at the university for a year is R85,000, which includes tuition, accommodation, books, transport and a living allowance.

NSFAS funding for a student is capped at R76,000, including accommodation, tuition, meals (if catered for), books and devices if required.

In the 2017 academic year, the NSFAS rejected the funding appeal applications of more than 2,000 students. The scheme initially turned down more than 9,000 prospective students, 5,615 of whom lodged appeals.

NSFAS spokesman Kagisho Mamabolo said on Sunday that the highest numbers of appeals were lodged by students registered to study at the University of Johannesburg.

The university was among the institutions that were awarded the highest proportion of NSFAS funding, as well as the University of SA, Tshwane University of Technology, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Walter Sisulu University and the University of Limpopo.

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