International MBA

Henley, Student Hero step up to simplify access to funding

An estimated 40% of students in South Africa are not eligible for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme or similar scholarships and struggle to access the finance they need to advance their education. Now a new partnership between Henley Business School and Student Hero aims to bridge that gap.

Henley Business School Africa has partnered with Student Hero, one of the country’s largest educational finance facilitators, to help students access funds to further their education.

‘Education is a national priority because well-educated people can help build the economy,’ says Henley dean and director Jon Foster-Pedley. ‘Currently, just four out of every 100 children who start school in South Africa will go on to get a degree within six years of finishing school. In Finland that number is about 55 and in the UK, it’s 50. This illustrates the enormous talent gap that exists in our country, and which is undermining our development.

‘It’s a colossal waste of talent. Think about it this way: If South Africa’s economy were a food processing plant, it would be monstrously inefficient. While the system is successfully extracting the juice of a few skilled resources, the vast majority of SA’s raw talent is pulped, underutilised, undervalued, and ultimately discarded.’ 

The innate talent and intelligence of South Africans is not in question, he emphasises, it’s access to education, especially higher education, that is an impediment to individual and economic growth and a big piece of this is access to funding.

A single-point of contact to access the funding you need

Student Hero was established in 2017 in response to the growing need for affordable student loans, especially for the so-called ‘missing middle’. According to Universities SA, which represents the country’s 26 public universities, about 40% of young people in South Africa who want to study further are not eligible for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme scholarships or similar funding provided by the universities themselves.

This leaves them with few options, and most are ill-equipped to navigate the complex world of financial institutions in order to get the funding they need.

There are multiple finance providers for South African students, and each has specific qualifying criteria and processes, making application processes time-intensive and potentially overwhelming. Student Hero offers a single point of contact for current and prospective students shopping around for funding and facilitates funding from leading financial institutions such as ABSA, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Capitec, FNB, Fundi, and Manati Alternate Student Funding.

According to Student Hero, their team consists of a ‘league of professionals, each being a specialist in their field, which means our advice is holistic, our solutions are creative and our value is unmatched.’

Since its inception Student Hero has secured loans to the value of R76 million. The organisation’s loan consultants and application coordinators offer real-time online and telephonic support to students while liaising with education institutions, thus simplifying the process for applicants while allowing them to compare offerings from more than one funding provider.

An opportunity for working South Africans to get on the qualifications ladder

Foster Pedley says that Henley’s partnership with Student Hero is part of the school’s commitment to make management training an option for those who simply could not afford to pursue formal, degree-level education without funding.

‘In South Africa there is a massive gap in qualifications for working South Africans who are already doing a good job, but could do so much more if they were given a skills and confidence boost. The truth is that right now, an estimated 45% of the workforce does not have the necessary skills to do their jobs, but many do not believe they can get on the qualification ladder or learn the skills they want and need because of affordability,’ says Foster-Pedley.

Foster-Pedley says that Henley has developed a “post-experience” qualification stairway to help address this skills deficit, consisting of five accredited programmes that stretch from post-matric all the way up to masters level.

At undergraduate level there are three programmes that teach management skills to post-experience students looking to advance their careers:

  • LIFT! Higher Certificate in Management Practice (NQF level 5) gives students greater credibility in the workplace by building their confidence, shaping their self-leadership and management skills, preparing them for managing teams, and demystifying the intricacies of business.
  • RISE! Advanced Certificate in Management Practice (NQF 6 diploma-level qualification) sets students apart as professional managers who can find opportunities and solve problems with confidence. Graduates of this programme know more, think better, and are able to act with determination.
  • SOAR! Advanced Diploma in management Practice (NQF level 7) imbues students with purpose, helping them find their inner eagle, elevate their business savvy and strategic management practice tools, and propel them to the next step in their careers.

These three stackable courses pave the way for students to continue to Henley’s postgraduate offerings, the Postgraduate Diploma in Management Practice (NQF 8, honours-level) and, ultimately, the flagship MBA, an internationally recognised, quadruple-accredited degree for executive-level students.

‘This formal learning pathway brings routine, system, order and professionalism to on-the-job learning. Because the programmes are all part-time, people can work while they study and gain lifelong motivation and a huge boost in self-confidence and skills, without sacrificing their income to do so,’ says Foster-Pedley.

Henley’s partnership with Student Hero aims to make it easier and quicker for people who could benefit hugely from these programmes to apply for and secure student finance.

In addition to giving students access to multiple finance options from a single point of contact, Student Hero can help them find out if they qualify for student finance by doing a pre-qualification check. Pre-qualification is free of charge and commitment-free.

‘This is the quickest way for students to find out if they qualify for student finance and to get the ball rolling towards realising their dream of education and career advancement. Let’s get started!’ says Foster-Pedley.

Contact Student Hero by email:, or call 031 942 7294.

Photo by Sadock Kaisi:

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