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3 minute read
9 Apr 2021
4:09 pm

Innovation at the heart of student funding

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A lack of funding is one of the main reasons many talented, young South Africans are precluded from getting a tertiary education.

In the hands of the right person, an education is one of the most powerful tools we have, and a good education can help those who are marginalised to lift themselves out of their circumstances to forge a productive life.

One of the ways in which financial institutions can help young people to overcome obstacles to education is through digital innovation.

Standard Bank understands the challenges facing young South Africans, that is why it continues to work so hard to find new ways to help young people finance their education.

“In 2020 we adapted our student loan offering to cover the cost of equipment and textbooks without the student having to apply for tuition as the primary reason for a Student Loan. Due to the abrupt shift away from the classroom, many students could not access their online classes on platforms such as Zoom and Teams. Globally, online studies have become the new norm and as a bank that is passionate about our customers and their development, we had to customise our offering in line with this shifting trend,” Magdeline Thidiela, Head: Client Solutions, Retail Personal Lending, Standard Bank says.

Prospective students can finance their full-time or part-time studies by applying online for a student loan at an interest rate of 7%. This will cover their registration fees, tuition fees – based on the amount they can afford, their accommodation up to R60 000 per year, as well as their textbooks and equipment.

“Standard Bank also allows students to increase their Student Loan limit online,” says Thidiela. “Students who want to continue their studies should not be penalised. Instead, we should be finding ways to make their journey easier and our online extension option is an example of how we are doing this.”

Not all prospective students can afford to take out a loan which is why Standard Bank launched Feenix Trust, an NPO, in June 2017. The online crowdsourcing platform makes tertiary education more accessible for economically disadvantaged students.

Feenix enables university students in need of funding for current or historic debt to create profiles and request donations toward their education journey. As a crowd-funding platform, Feenix enables individuals and businesses to take meaningful action to solve social problems.

In its first three years, Feenix raised over R35 million, providing support for over 1 000 students. Standard Bank has extended its sponsorship of Feenix beyond the three years to which we originally committed.

To further fulfil its vision to remove barriers to education, Feenix launched the #CapTheGap initiative in May 2020. Feenix worked closely with universities to identify the final year and postgraduate students who were at risk of being left out in the move to online learning during campus closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals and corporates responded to the crowdfunding initiative and raised R3.5 million which equipped 403 students on and off the Feenix platform with data, digital devices, and food.

“Standard Bank also is committed to changing the lives and fulfilling the educational aspirations of our young South Africans. This has been fuelled by innovation and the agility to finding new ways to partner with our youth overcome evolving financial obstacles,” Thidiela concludes.