FundiConnect and African Bank release inaugural 2023 Student Funding Insights Report

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FundiConnect and African Bank have announced a thought-leadership partnership in the student funding insights space.

They will be releasing the first focused sector report on student funding on 3 August 2023. The report launch follows several months of both qualitative and quantitative interaction by Fundi with the over 9 000 students on its database. It provides essential perspectives, statistics and data regarding higher education, and highlights how many qualifying tertiary students still find themselves without much-needed funding.

The past month has once again seen funding challenges and realities play out at various universities and tertiary institutions across South Africa. “This is something our ongoing engagement with students across our national database continues to highlight – which we have gone on to unpack in detail in our Student Funding Insights Report,” says Mala Suriah, acting CEO of Fundi.

With just over 1 000 students (aged between 18 and 24) responding to the comprehensive survey, and almost 60 participating in the focus group, the report brings together the hopes, fears, highs and lows of being a Gen Z student in South Africa. It demonstrates clearly that despite increased public finance, as well as student loan facilities and the array of private and institutional bursaries and support schemes available in the space, present funding models continue to fall short of covering all the expenses of studying further. “As such, student potential continues to be compromised – directly impacting their chance of real success,” notes Suriah.

Because Fundi is a key contributor to the student funding space, the organisation was ideally placed to produce a report that draws on clear and specific student feedback and data. The partnership with African Bank will continue adding value to these insights – based on the bank’s repositioning strategy and its ongoing interest in South Africa’s dynamic youth market.

“There are multiple costs students have to consider when starting their higher education journey: costs that many working South Africans are unable to afford. With this in mind, African Bank wanted to add our voice to this discussion – focusing on what additional coverage students might ask of funding providers, so that we can lead engagement in the space and look beyond current models,” explains Sbusiso Kumalo, Group Chief Marketing Officer: African Bank.

From the preliminary data gathered, Fundi went on to identify specific areas of student concern – which were explored in depth to provide sharper insights through a screened focus group drawn from the overall sample of respondents.

“Research generated through the focus group enabled immediate, personalised understanding of students’ spending behaviour as well as problems directly encountered with funding sources in South Africa.” Student banking is specifically examined, reviewing whether students are achieving and maintaining any savings during their studies, and identifying students’ understanding of the banking and finance options that are available to them.

Conditions that cause students to prefer certain banking institutions over others, and which banking institutions students explicitly prefer, are also identified within the report, in addition to spending influences and significant expenses that have to be accommodated within their budgets. “As such, the report sets out the financial challenges students face while completing their studies; how they’re trying to empower themselves with knowledge about funding options; and helpful detail regarding financial loan providers – clarifying who’s funding our students, and summarising student responses to funding received,” notes Suriah.

Perhaps most importantly, the report identifies systemic gaps in financial literacy and budgeting, and connects these findings to existing conditions in the space. “We hope that this triggers ongoing conversation around alternative solution structures and the support students really need, so that we can collectively act. In this way, we will achieve the report’s true intention,” Kumalo concludes.

The report will available on both the Fundi and African Bank websites as a download from 3 August 2023.

For further information visit www.fundi.co.za or www.africanbank.co.za.