Education has been a political hot potato ever since Fees Must Fall and former president Jacob Zuma may well have saddled his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, with an impossible task when he announced free higher education and training for poor students on the eve of the ANC’s national elective conference in December.

Regardless, starting this year, students from households that have a gross combined income of up to R350 000, may study for free.

The budget allocation for phased in fee-free higher education amounts to R57bn over the next three years, of which R12.4bn will go towards needy first-year students in 2018/19.

Regarding basic education, the Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative, which is meant to upgrade and replace schools in rural and underprivileged areas, will complete all outstanding projects by the end of the next financial year.


April 23, 2018: Details of funding for higher education layed out

Satisfactory academic performance will be among the expectations university students will have to meet in order to qualify for government’s funding scheme, Higher Education and Training Minister Naledi Pandor says.

Government set aside additional funding of R7.166bn in 2018 – R4.581bn for qualifying university students and R2.585bn for technical vocational education and training (TVET) college students. The money will be spent in various ways.

April 23, 2018: Pandor orders department to assist NSFAS to speed up student-funding 

Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor orders her department to assist the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) in processing application from students who are eligible for university grants.

NSFAS received 408 000 applications for funding for 2018, and by early March had still not processed all of them.

February 26, 2018: New education minister appointed

Naledi Pandor is appointed minister of higher education and training in Ramaphosa’s Cabinet reshuffle.

February 21, 2018: Budget allocated for free higher education ✅

Then finance minister Malusi Gigaba allocates R57bn over three years to fee-free higher education for students from households with a combined income of R350 000. A total of R12.4bn is allocated for 2018/19 and R10bn for the 2017 financial year, according to the budget review.

Returning students on the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will have their loans converted to bursaries from 2018. “This is an important step forwards to breaking the cycle of poverty and confronting youth unemployment,” Gigaba says.