The Comprehensive Benefits of Securing a SETA Bursary for South African Students

SETA or Sector Education and Training Authority bursaries provide more than just funding for tuition fees. They offer a holistic set of benefits that collectively empower students to complete their tertiary studies and launch purposeful careers. This detailed guide explores all the key academic, financial, career development and long-term benefits that SETA bursary programs facilitate for students across South Africa.

SETA Bursary Benefits


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Introduction to SETA Bursary Benefits

SETA bursaries are funded by SETAs – industry skills bodies aimed at developing human capital in key economic sectors. Beyond covering tuition costs, SETAs design their bursary programs to provide recipients additional benefits like:

  • Generous monthly living allowances
  • Mentorship and workplace exposure
  • Employability skills development
  • Future employment opportunities
  • Networking platforms with industry players

This multipronged approach equips bursary students thoroughly for excelling in their academic studies and chosen careers.

Financial Support Provided by SETA Bursaries

The primary appeal of SETA bursaries is the extensive financial benefits they provide for students:

Full Tuition Fees Covered

  • All academic fees for the program paid directly to university

Registration Costs Covered

  • Registration, exam fees, service levies included

Monthly Living Allowance

  • Monthly stipend for food, transport, accommodation etc.

Books and Materials Allowance

  • Money for textbooks, stationery, printing, photocopying etc.

Travel Allowance

  • Funds for commuting or visiting home periodically

By significantly easing the financial burden through these allowances, bursary recipients can focus fully on their studies.

Additional Career Development Opportunities

Beyond financial support, SETA bursaries also facilitate professional development:

Mentorship Programs

  • Guidance from an industry expert on soft skills, workplace readiness etc.

Internships and Workplace Exposure

  • Placements at sector companies to gain hands-on experience

Networking Events

  • Engage with industry players at conferences, workshops etc.

Skills Development Initiatives

  • Short courses on leadership, presentations, computer skills etc.

These opportunities give bursary students unique access to grow their capabilities and links in their field.

Long-Term Advantages of SETA Bursaries

The benefits of SETA bursaries extend well beyond just the student years by providing:

Reduced Debt Burden

  • Bursary funding prevents accumulating education loans and credit card debt

Employability and Work Opportunities

  • Practical experience gained improves hiring prospects at graduation
  • Sponsoring SETA companies offer preference for jobs and learnerships

Professional Network and Profile

  • Access to mentorship and events establishes industry contacts
  • Bursary recipient status and SETA affiliation is an impressive CV addition

Valuable Skills and Capabilities

  • Students build soft skills, emotional intelligence, business acumen etc.
  • Technical abilities in the field are strengthened

These long-term advantages give bursary graduates a head start in their careers.

Diversity of Non-Financial Benefits

Beyond stipends and tuition coverage, additional non-monetary benefits include:

  • Free laptops
  • Data bundles
  • Professional association memberships
  • Software and tech tools
  • Monthly career guidance sessions
  • Access to online libraries and journals
  • Conference/seminar attendance
  • Supplementary academic tutoring
  • Wellness and psychosocial support
  • Leadership development courses

Maximizing these offerings facilitates both academic and personal growth for students.

Examples of SETA Bursary Benefits in Action

To make the benefits more concrete, here are examples from real SETA bursary programs:

MerSETA Bursary

  • R100,000 tuition fees
  • R60,000 living allowance
  • R5,000 book allowance
  • Workplace mentorship
  • Guaranteed industry internship

FoodBev SETA Bursary

  • Full tuition coverage
  • Monthly living allowance
  • Industry network access
  • Skills workshops (leadership, financial literacy etc.)
  • Employability support and career guidance

HWSETA Bursary

  • Tuition and registration fee funding
  • R7,000 monthly living allowance
  • Laptop and data bundle
  • Health sciences conference participation

As evident, each SETA structures varied benefits beyond just financial support for recipients.

Application Criteria for SETA Bursaries

To qualify for these life-changing SETA bursary benefits, prospective students must meet criteria like:

  • Being a South African citizen
  • Meeting minimum academic performance levels
  • Displaying financial need
  • Studying in fields aligned to SETA scope
  • Preparing a complete bursary application with all documents
  • Submitting the application before annual deadlines

Meeting the requirements and going through a selective screening process is necessary.

Participating Universities and Qualifications

SETA bursaries are open to students from all accredited South African public universities and colleges including:

  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Johannesburg
  • Nelson Mandela University
  • University of Pretoria
  • Universities of Technology (Tshwane, Cape Peninsula etc.)

They cover diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programs aligned to the SETA’s industry and skills priorities.

Positive Impacts of SETA Bursaries

Some of the key socioeconomic impacts of the SETA bursary program in South Africa include:

Increased Access to Tertiary Education

SETAs facilitate entry for financially disadvantaged students who otherwise could not afford fees and associated costs.

Drive Transformation and Inclusion

Bursaries increase participation of black, female and rural youth in priority skills areas.

Alleviate Skills Shortages

By funding students, SETAs expand the talent pipeline in scarce technical skills.

Enhance Employability

Hands-on experience improves job prospects for graduates, reducing unemployment.

Boost Economic Development

SETAs contribute to national growth by developing highly skilled, work-ready labour.

Uplift Communities

Bursaries enable graduates to support family members and give back to their communities.

The multiplier positive effects make SETA bursaries a valuable mechanism for socioeconomic upliftment.


In summary, SETA bursaries provide holistic benefits beyond just tuition funding – ranging from generous allowances to work placements, industry networking, long-term employability and more. This comprehensive support empowers recipients to gain academic qualifications and purposeful career opportunities despite financial constraints. The application process involves meeting clearly outlined criteria like academic scores, financial need and field of study. For qualifying students, SETA bursary programs serve as a life-changing pathway into meaningful employment in priority national industries.


How are SETA bursary recipients selected?

Selection involves meeting eligibility criteria, a competitive application process, and interviews testing knowledge, motivation and aptitude.

Do bursary benefits differ among recipients?

Benefits are standardized for all qualifying students. But allowances may vary if residing on- or off-campus.

Can I hold another bursary along with the SETA bursary?

Most SETAs don’t allow holding simultaneous bursaries as they provide comprehensive coverage. Check with the SETA.

Is there a requirement to work for the SETA after graduating?

Some SETAs require 1 year of work per bursary year funded. Others have no service conditions.

Can current university students apply for SETA bursaries?

Yes, SETA bursaries support students already enrolled in tertiary studies, not just new applicants.

Which SETAs offer the most bursaries annually?

Leading SETAs by bursary numbers are FASSET, FoodBev, EWSETA, Services SETA, MerSETA, and CHIETA among others.

The multifaceted support provided through SETA bursary schemes enables students to pursue academic dreams without financial limitations.


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