The past few years have gripped South Africa’s higher education institutions with students’ strikes and complaints from students having issues with not finding employment after graduating due to qualifications held by institutions. It has become a hot topic among universities’ management, government officials and students across tertiary education institutions. Funding has become a huge problem in a country where the youth want to pursue their studies post matric, but cannot afford to study at universities and colleges.
In attempts to curb this problem, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) is making means to fund students. The issue of student funding has created a robust debate on the number of students not covered by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and education institutions due to increasing numbers of enrolments in tertiary institutions. UJ, in partnership with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE), is organizing a Future Walk (5 km walkathon and 8 km run) to raise funds for academically deserving students who do not have money to pay for their studies.
The Future Walk will take place on 18 October 2015 in Auckland Park at the AW Muller Stadium, located at the Bunting Road Campus. Prior to the run and walkathon, intended to be organised annually.
“Help us to ensure a future for our students. UJ and the Gauteng Education Department have invested millions of rands in student bursaries over the past few years. As a result of the national funding limitations at NSFAS, this investment is not enough to assist all our students. In 2015, 725 returning students in good academic standing did not register as they could not raise the funds required. Funds raised from the UJ Future Walk will go a long way in ensuring this does not happen again,” says Ms Nolwazi Mamorare (CA – SA) Executive Director: Financial Governance and Revenue at UJ.
UJ’s Student Representative Council, denoted by its President Khutso Rammutla, fully supports the initiative. “UJSRC supports this fundraising initiative because of its belief that quality education should be accessible to all, poor or rich. The South African Constitution prescribes that education is a right, but it is unfortunate that there still are not enough resources allocated to ensure that everyone enjoys the opportune right to pursue education. In South Africa, it still feels like education is a privileged commodity.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to encourage everyone to contribute to this fundraising initiative so that people get educated. It is through education that our society can be a better place without prejudices, poverty and suffering. The SRC will continue to advocate for SRC Trust Fund and Meal Assistance in order to empower young people with education. I urge all of us to be the generation that will walk tall because we would have removed all the stumbling blocks to education and youth development. Let UJ show every institution in South Africa that where there is dedication, success and miracles happen,” says Rammutla.
The fun run is aimed at raising funds for UJ’s underprivileged, but academically deserving students that cannot pay for their tuition fees and other basic needs that to enable them to complete their studies. In 2015, there were 2 358 senior students who met the NSFAS qualifying criteria, but could not be funded due to the NSFAS funding shortfall. The total debt for this group of students who managed to register is currently at R52m.
UJ Student Finance is actively involved in fundraising for underprivileged but academically performing students. In the 2014 financial year, R34m was raised through direct interaction with external sponsors/donors across all industries. The funds that were raised managed to relieve some of the NSFAS shortfall that is increasing every year.