Education is an investment in the future, and its genuine cost should not be underestimated.

As a secondary school, Flanders College is committed to shaping a bright future for its students, ensuring that young minds are equipped with the necessary tools to grow and flourish.

A young person’s path to success depends on the quality of education received. The successive phases of secondary and tertiary education lay the foundations for a prosperous future, shaping one into a capable contributor to society.

However, providing high-quality education comes with its share of challenges, primarily in the form of associated costs.

In shedding light on the real cost of education in South Africa, Jan Mentz, the Academic Dean of Belgium Campus iTversity, which is one of our founding partners, articulates pertinent views in the article “Real Cost of Education in SA Hits the Poor Hard,” featured in the Bedfordview and Edenvale News Supplement on September 20, 2023, Page 7.

Mentz describes the challenges faced by the underprivileged in accessing education, exposing the harsh realities that hinder their educational pursuits. Flanders College notes these challenges with concern, especially as it is committed to providing a well-resourced, technologically driven, and innovative education.

Real Cost of Education in SA Hits the Poor Hard.

In South Africa, the impact of higher basic goods inflation on the poor is significantly more profound compared to better-off families. According to Stats SA, poorer families spend over three times as much on necessities such as food and accommodation.

Jan Mentz, an academic dean, said these families are also aspirational and want a better future for their children, making investments in education a top priority.

However, the majority of South Africans are unable to access tertiary education due to financial constraints, exacerbating the education divide in the country.

To mitigate the high dropout rates and associated costs, parents must prepare for a range of hidden expenses.

Mentz emphasised that these hidden costs extend beyond finances and encompass emotional tolls, including campus unrest, and uncertainty about employment prospects in an economy plagued by almost 33% unemployment.

The conversation surrounding the real cost of education goes beyond mere monetary figures. It involves recognising the numerous overlooked expenses, including living costs like food, clothing, accommodation, data, internet, and transportation, all of which are necessary for students studying for a minimum of three years.

These costs vary depending on the course and level of study, but they can accumulate to tens of thousands of rands, necessitating careful planning.

While students may think that increasing public funding is a straightforward solution, it introduces complexities in terms of selection, distribution, and management of funds, which place a significant burden on taxpayers, particularly concerning the shrinking tax base.

Consequently, post-school education in South Africa is a costly endeavour, making it unattainable for most students who rely on public funding.

While the National Student Financial Aid Scheme NSFAS aims to assist less privileged students, it often does not cover these additional expenses, a detail frequently overlooked by families of first-year students.

Compounding the issue is the fact that NSFAS is grappling with financial difficulties and has tightened its eligibility criteria. Student unrest has become increasingly visible due to changes in selection and payments to students on the NSFAS scheme.

Public universities also struggle with student debt and face criticism for preventing students with outstanding fees from registering or obtaining their qualifications.

To address these challenges, policymakers, institutions, and society as a whole must recognise the true cost of education and work towards enhancing its accessibility, affordability, and support for students' overall wellbeing.

Education is an investment in the future, and its genuine cost should not be underestimated.

* Jan Mentz is an academic dean at Belgium Campus iTversity. To mitigate the high dropout rates and associated costs, parents must prepare for a range of hidden expenses.

Belgium Campus iTversity is a founding partner of Flanders College, solidifying our commitment to delivering excellence in education. With a dedication to offering well-resourced tertiary education, Belgium Campus strives to equip graduates with the skills and knowledge needed for a bright future. See here for more info:

Real cost of education in SA hits the poor hard – Bedfordview & Edenvale News, Supplement, page 7, Wednesday, 20 September 2023. Article sourced from