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UJ campaign to empower ‘Missing Middle’ students surges ahead R100 million raised

The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) ‘Missing Middle’ fundraising campaign, which is one the biggest fundraising campaigns ever undertaken by a South African institution of higher learning, has raised R100 million to support the studies of almost 2,500 ‘missing middle’ students.

The University secured the R100 million, to support students who are in the ‘missing middle’ and hence do not qualify for NSFAS, with a generous ten million rand cash donation from FirstRand Foundation.

“The FirstRand Empowerment Fund (FREF), has a very specific mandate to contribute to a strengthened economy and a better South Africa through promoting and funding education especially among the historically disadvantaged South Africans. FREF represents a significant piece of the endowment created by the group’s successful BEE scheme” said Mr Sizwe Nxasana, Chairman of FREF.

UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Ihron Rensburg said this contribution is in addition to FirstRand Foundation’s previous contribution of R6 million over three years. It is encouraging to see the private sector investing in education. I continue to be astounded at the extraordinary goodwill that has been shown to our University and our students. It is important for students to acknowledge the commitment and the contribution made by the private sector towards the funding of higher education, which the FirstRand Foundation has demonstrated with this donation,” said Prof Rensburg.

Prof Rensburg emphasised that the recent wave of Fees Must Fall student demonstrations highlight the funding challenges facing all South African universities. “The University’s Council and Executive Management fully support the goal of free education for the poor, and the implementation of a funding model which will enable access to “missing middle” students,” said Prof Rensburg.

Mr Nxasana pointed out that providing this money to the country’s universities fits perfectly with this mandate. “Many of us have watched our tertiary education system struggle with violence and disruption over the past year and those of us who have benefited from that education system in the past, need to step up and ensure the next generation receives the same benefit. We hope that this contribution ensures that those students that want to continue studying and complete their exams can do so,” he said.

Prof Rensburg concluded: “We are deeply grateful to business and industry, and the public sector for their timely response and generous contributions that have helped UJ reach its goals for the “Missing Middle”. We are truly humbled, honoured and inspired,” Prof Rensburg said.

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