Sponsored Content

Education shouldn't be a privilege for the few, yet in South Africa, a staggering 40% of students are locked out due to a lack of funding. Tertiary institutions and funding institutions can do more to bridge the gap and help students access funds to further their education faster and with less friction.

A well-educated workforce can go a long way to building our economy but with education out of the financial reach of many, our development as a nation will continue to be hobbled, unless tertiary institutions and financial institutions step up to be innovative. 

‘Education is a national priority because well-educated people can help build the economy,’ says dean and director of Henley Business School Africa, Jon Foster-Pedley. ‘Currently, just four out of every 100 children who start school in South Africa will go on to get a degree within six years of finishing school. In Finland, that number is about 55, and in the UK, it’s 50. This illustrates the enormous talent gap that exists in our country and which is undermining our development.

‘It’s a colossal waste of talent. Think about it this way: If SA’s economy were a food processing plant, it would be monstrously inefficient. While the system is successfully extracting the juice of a few skilled resources, the vast majority of SA’s raw talent is pulped, underutilised, undervalued, and ultimately discarded.’ 

The innate talent and intelligence of South Africans are not in question, he emphasises, it’s access to education, especially higher education, that is an impediment to individual and economic growth, and a big piece of this is access to funding.

Novel partnerships to bridge the funding gap

The situation has prompted Henley to partner with Student Hero, one of the country’s largest education finance facilitators, to help students access funds to further their education faster and with less friction. 

Student Hero itself is an innovation. It was established in 2017 in response to the growing need for affordable student loans, especially for the so-called ‘missing middle’. According to Universities SA, which represents the country’s 26 public universities, about 40% of young people in South Africa who want to study further are not eligible for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme scholarships for the needy or similar funding provided by the universities themselves. This leaves them with few options, and most are ill-equipped to navigate the complex world of financial institutions.

There are multiple finance providers for South African students, and each has specific qualifying criteria and processes, making application processes time-intensive and potentially overwhelming. Student Hero offers a single point of contact for current and prospective students shopping around for funding and facilitates funding from leading financial institutions such as ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Capitec, FNB, Fundi, and Manati Alternate Student Funding.

According to Student Hero, their team consists of a ‘league of professionals, each being a specialist in their field, which means our advice is holistic, our solutions are creative, and our value is unmatched.’

Since its inception, Student Hero has secured loans worth R76 million. The organisation’s loan consultants and application coordinators offer real-time online and telephone support to students while liaising with education institutions, simplifying the process for applicants while allowing them to compare offerings from more than one funding provider. 

A second chance for working South Africans to get on the qualifications ladder

Foster-Pedley says that Henley’s partnership with Student Hero is part of the school’s commitment to giving the many South Africans who may have given up on furthering their education an opportunity to pursue formal, degree-level education. 

‘In South Africa, there is a massive gap in qualifications for working South Africans who are already doing a good job but could do so much more if they were given a skills and confidence boost. The truth is that right now, an estimated 45% of the workforce does not have the necessary skills to do their jobs, but many do not believe they can get on the qualification ladder or learn the skills they want and need because of affordability,’ says Foster-Pedley.

He adds that Henley has developed a “post-experience” qualification stairway to help address this skills deficit by allowing students to gain accredited qualifications while they work. The pathway consists of five accredited programmes that stretch from post-matric all the way up to masters level.
At the undergraduate level, there are three programmes that teach increasingly advanced management skills to post-experience students looking to advance their careers:

1. LIFT! Higher Certificate in Management Practice (NQF level 5) gives students greater credibility in the workplace by building their confidence, shaping their self-leadership and management skills, preparing them for managing teams, and demystifying the intricacies of business.

2. RISE! Advanced Certificate in Management Practice (NQF level 6) sets students apart as professional managers who can find opportunities and solve problems with confidence. Graduates of this programme know more, think better, and are able to act with determination.

3. SOAR! Advanced Diploma in Management Practice (NQF level 7) imbues students with purpose, helping them find their inner eagle, elevate their business savvy and strategic management practice tools, and propelling them to the next step in their careers.

These three stackable courses pave the way for students to continue to Henley’s postgraduate offerings, the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice (NQF 8, honours-level) and, ultimately, the flagship MBA, an internationally recognised, quadruple-accredited degree for executive-level students. 

‘This formal learning pathway brings routine, system, order and professionalism to on-the-job learning. Because the programmes are all part-time, people can work while they study and gain lifelong motivation and a huge boost in self-confidence and skills without sacrificing their income to do so,’ says Foster-Pedley. 

Of course, the companies they work for will also gain a huge boost in productivity, he adds.

We have this massive amount of talent in the middle of organisations, and they are hugely underutilised. We didn’t give them the opportunity to get the education they deserved, and now they think they have missed that chance, but you can start in your 30s, even 40s … The average age of Henley’s level-5 programme is 37! At Henley, we believe in second chances.

‘This is how we change the dynamic of South Africa in a subtle but profound way by equipping this stratum of an organisation with management practice skills that are immediately useful. With management skills, you can make anything work better, cheaper, faster, and at higher quality and that immediately lifts everyone else.’

Foster-Pedley says that Henley’s partnership with Student Hero aims to make it easier and quicker for people who could benefit hugely from these programmes to apply for and secure student finance.

In addition to giving students access to multiple finance options from a single point of contact, Student Hero can help them find out if they qualify for student finance by doing a free pre-qualification check.

‘This is the quickest way for students to find out if they qualify for student finance and to get the ball rolling towards realising their dream of education and career advancement. Let’s get started!’ DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    All very noble but who is going to pay for it all?

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Good question Ben, treating symptoms will get us nowhere, corruption is the root of all the social ills we experience today, compounded by past injustices in the economy distribution and the lack of resources that allow self determination of wealth within the majority of the population.
      Land is the cornerstone to the creation of the economy for any country.
      We are still an employment based economy due to a lack of that critical resource.
      There is a strong argument from the EFF in this regard but it will be an uphill as long as we see conspiracy theories with all the right things.
      I don’t lobby for a political party but will always point out the right noise.
      John Steenhuisen is being blamed for DA failures by those who don’t know him, if you take him out those problems will remain because they are not a product of his policies, he is one example of a person who can preside over the country where policies will resonate with the man himself.

  • Johan Buys says:

    This all needs to be reversed.

    At present our education system produces many that are equipped to study history philosophy potitical science and languages.

    If business assesses candidates and adopts a student in a scheme where gov pays half and employer pays half, all graduates will have jobs and we would have a quarter as many people studying hard in fields nobody needs them for.

    • Ben Harper says:

      Universities have for years been completely commercial enterprises, their admissions are purely a bums-on-seats exercise, they don’t care if there’s anything viable for the students taking the courses they offer. Universities should be for the academic elite, bring back colleges and trade schools

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted