Pragmatic solutions needed to answer student funding crises

Although, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) plays a vital role for access to tertiary institutions of higher learning by providing funding, the demand for student financial support is vast and has been inadequate given the scale of need among and beyond those qualifying for assistance.

The shortfall in NSFAS funding results in fewer students gaining access or continuing their studies at higher education institutions, she points out.

Can a country with the history (past and contemporary) of South Africa afford to suffer as a result? Is the funding solely the responsibility of government? How can “Joe Public” assist poor academically deserving students to study at a higher education institution?

These questions have led to a much more substantial conversation on exploring pragmatic solutions to assist students. UJ has now partnered with the Gauteng Department of Education on a new initiative, the UJ Future Walk (5 km walk and 8 km run). The UJ Future Walk, that will be held annually, creates an avenue where UJ alumni, employees, students and the community at large can step up to make a difference to our shared future.

The University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Ihron Rensburg, together with Gauteng’s Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi will be leading the UJ Future Walk on Sunday, 18 October 2015 to raise funds for students that are deserving to pursue studies at the University but are financially excluded due to the NSFAS shortfall.

“While the public might not see the funding of University students as their responsibility, youth unemployment, crime, poverty and socio-economic problems affect the entire socio-economic landscape of a country. By donating much needed funds, no matter how big or small, the man on the street becomes the solution,” says Ms Mahlangu.

She stressed that the UJ Future Walk is a small fraction of what the University is doing to help students. It is evident that UJ, in its mandate and ambition to be an accessible University to all South Africans, has gone to extreme measures to provide a better future to the youth of the country. Going into the future, more pragmatic efforts will have to be explored by universities to shape a South Africa whose youth forms the fabric of its economic, social, and educational development.

UJ appeals to all sectors of its society, the public, corporate companies and business people, to support this worthy cause that would assist with the financial burdens of poor or less privileged students. Support can be offered by pledging (R20) or by participating the 5 km Walk (R145) or 8 km Run (R175).

The UJ Future Walk reiterates President Jacob Zuma’s recent formation of a task team to address funding challenges at tertiary institutions, after meeting with South Africa’s universities vice-chancellors to resolve student funding on a national scale.

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