Innovating in Student Support: Using your BBBEE Skills Dev for more than just providing Bursaries

The December 2019 amendments to the BBBEE-Code 300 require large entities to spend 2,5% of their annual payroll on bursaries. The amendments are a direct result of the Fees Must Fall campaign and have removed the rule that limited recognizable expenditure to tuition-related costs only. With NSFAS sponsoring students from households with less than R350K a year, most corporates are using this new “all traceable bursary spend is recognized” dispensation in a variety of innovative ways, like:

  1. Providing “top-up” funding and wrap-around support to students funded (often under-funded) by NSFAS
  2. Providing robust wrap-around support for their current portfolio of student beneficiaries.
    1. Some companies, typically with smaller headcounts, are sponsoring other company/sector bursaries with access to wrap-around support for their students.
  3. Providing full-funding to the “missing middle” students, from households with R350K-600K per annum.
  4. Sponsoring faculties or other bursaries with access to an ad hoc private tutoring budget
  5. Providing sponsorship to students that are in private colleges, in addition to the national universities.


At Excel@Uni; We build solutions to help the tertiary sector avoid losing R15 Billion annually to the 50% student dropout rate. Over the last 8 years of our operations, we have been testing some insightful hypotheses around effective student-support and the economics of scaling the solutions, to affordably halve the 50% dropout rate in the 2-3 million student tertiary education sector. The hypotheses we’ve tested with our 500 bursary students are;

  1. Minimum full-time bursary fund budget needs to be R175K per student annually.
  2. Dynamic (ie, weekly) student academic tracking and access to private tutoring, are the 2 most effective academic support interventions for students.
  3. Mentorship (as a performance requirement for earning stipends) plays a critical role in advising key student decision-making and professionalising their conduct.
  4. General work-readiness skills can be taught effectively and with the same prioritisation as academic teaching. Student buy-in can be secured with a Skills Transcript that maps out experiential learning.
  5. Bursary spend doesn’t need to be limited to student support in the form of tuition-based funding models.


We believe that the new BBBEE skills development spending rules provide a fertile ground for companies to experiment impactfully with their skills spend. The experiments can be optimized and scaled for national impact through government/NSFAS adoption, once proven effective. We are tackling some key challenges faced in the different practice-areas of student support, and we would be very excited to partner with your company, so that our solutions can be made relevant to your industry and community of operation.


Our Bursary Admin Fee includes a free subscription to our Mila student information system. We implement all-round promotion activities for the bursary, working closely with the career centers, bursary notice boards, university handbook editors, online bursary databases and partner organizations to ensure that the bursary receives the necessary exposure to attract the best possible students.


The biggest risk factor facing students is insufficient funding, which requires them to split their focus between schooling and earning sustenance income. With the majority of low-income university entrants being the first in their family to do so, there is a need for significant financial investment in order for the student to overcome the deficit of their socio-economic background. With the new BBBEE codes allowing for full expenditure recognition, there is no need for bursaries to pursue high-student volumes on their bursaries, while under-providing on books, equipment and travel stipends. All spending that can be traced to the student will be recognized. Larger volumes also lead to a situation where students need to double-dip in order to sufficiently cover their schooling and living costs.


Contact us here if you would like to hear more about our bursary admin offering.