The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has launched the most ambitious campaign ever undertaken by a South African institution of higher learning in support of students who are ‘too rich’ to qualify for NSFAS support, but ‘too poor’ to afford fees and qualify for commercial loans.
The initiative, dubbed “the UJ Missing Middle Campaign” – and which aims to raise at least R60 million by the end of this year – kicked off with a high profile event in Johannesburg on Thursday evening (25 February 2016), where R10 million was generated.
Nearly R31 million had already been raised by Sunday morning (28 February 2016), including a personal donation of R200 000.00 by UJ Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Ihron Rensburg, as well as R100 000.00 that has been pledged by the University’s Students Advisory Council. The Executive Deans of Faculties at the University have also jointly pledged R550 000.00 to the fund.
“Our job as universities is the empowerment of the next generation of leaders for the South African economy, society and governance through academic study leading to concrete, sought-after qualifications,” Prof Rensburg said.
“And while the #feesmustfall campaign last year successfully highlighted the funding challenges facing all South African universities, we are acutely aware as a major university in the country’s economic heartland that we have a particular duty to thousands of our students who no longer qualify for government support via NSFAS, but whose families cannot afford to put them through university. It is this ‘missing middle’ that UJ aims to support through the fundraising campaign.”
Ms Simphiwe Dana, one of UJs most illustrious alumnae performed at the launch, and another UJ graduate Ms Cynthia Tshaka was the Master of Ceremonies.
About 5 000 students at UJ are currently classified as part of this “Missing Middle – almost all of whom have been assisted by the University, which has paid their initial payment for the 2016 academic year. However, these students still require support for the balance of their fees, books, and other living needs.
The UJ Missing Middle Campaign aims to cover the tuition fee portion of the full year’s costs. The average total cost of a year’s study at UJ – which is one of the more affordable South African universities – currently stands at R85 000 – including tuition and residence fees, books and a living allowance.
“UJ makes a major contribution to the economy of South Africa and particularly of Gauteng, both through the provision of a steady stream of well-qualified and highly-motivated individuals able to take up management and leadership roles in the workplace and through research which directly benefits communities and industry. In order to continue to be able to play this important role in empowering individuals and their families and for the economy, UJ is appealing to more businesses and individuals to dig deep and give generously to the campaign as a concrete contribution to shaping and empowering the country’s future leaders,” ProfRensburg said.