‘My time thus far with ISFAP has given me more to look forward to in the future and that has made me very appreciative. I realise so many students, even those I am friends with, spend a lot of time worrying about tuition fees not being paid and about how their bank balances are something to cry about. ISFAP helps me to not experience such things; I am extremely grateful for that. Thank you to the staff, funders, and other members for their efforts in keeping the ISFAP organisation running, not only for me or the current cohort, but also for future students.’ —Olatokunbo Emmanuel Omisakin, BSc (Eng), Civil Engineering, at the University of the Witwatersrand
Funders who support tertiary education demand that their investment is used effectively, and accounted for professionally. They also mandate results: they want to know that their money is applied purposefully and make a noticeable difference. At the same time, talented and motivated students with a lack of funding need support to set them on the road as critical skills providers.
In 2021 the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) became the largest private bursary provider in the country, and was named as the ‘Best Bursary provider’ by the B-BBEE Commission for its outstanding contribution towards skills development in the country.
The ISFAP is a non-profit foundation that focuses on investment into the future of our communities and the economy: it specifically supports the ‘missing middle’ segment of students at public universities throughout South Africa. The ‘missing middle’ are those students who are too poor to afford to go to university, yet also not poor enough to qualify for government funding: the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) assistance stipulates that a household income needs to be below R350 000 per year. Thus, those students coming from households earning more than R350 000 but less than R600 000 annually are often unable to afford the fees, accommodation and living expenses required while studying. ISFAP currently focuses mainly on the critical skills needed in the engineering, IT and data science, chartered accountancy, actuarial and medical profession fields. The programme’s expansion into funding other disciplines will remain responsive to the skills demands of the economy and the availability of funds.