The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has been in the headlines recently with its former CEO fired over “breach of trust”, on-going reports of students battling to get their monthly allowances and news that a new NSFAS funding model will be presented to Cabinet before the start of the new academic year.

So it was highly pertinent and topical that an investigation into how NSFAS funding affects students in the South African Higher Education (HE) context was one of the research presentations given at the recent SASS (Student Affairs Student Success) colloquium held in Johannesburg.

The SASS programme is a direct response to a national Training Needs Assessment (TNA) survey that the Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) programme carried out among student affairs, student development and student support professionals at South Africa’s 26 public institutions in 2021. The study found that 86% of the surveyed sample (N=362) was keen to take part in a capacity building intervention to enhance their impact on student success. This finding, including the competencies and skills needs expressed by the target group, went on to inform the design of the training programe during 2022.