The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) ‘Missing Middle’ fundraising campaign received a generous ten million rand cash donation from one of South Africa’s major financial institutions, ABSA. The ABSA donation was secured to support students who are in the ‘missing middle’ and hence do not qualify for NSFAS.
“We empathise with the plight of many students whose parents cannot afford to provide for all their needs at university and the limited resources at the disposal of universities,” said the Chief Executive Officer at ABSA, Ms Maria Ramos.
UJ launched the ‘Missing Middle’ campaign in February 2016, one of the biggest fundraising campaigns ever undertaken by a South African institution of higher learning. To date, the University has raised close to R90 million to support the studies of almost 2,500 ‘missing middle’ students.
UJ’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Ihron Rensburg said it is encouraging to see the private sector investing in education. “It is important for the students to acknowledge the commitment and the contribution which the private sector is already making towards the funding of higher education, which ABSA has demonstrated with this donation,” said Prof Rensburg.
“The current 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.
Ms Ramos stated that ABSA feels a responsibility to make a contribution while long-term solutions to higher education funding are being developed. “We trust that this contribution will assist UJ to make quality education more accessible to the youth of South Africa,” she 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”. However, I want to make a further appeal, to other corporates, for contributions to this vital cause. By giving generously to the ‘Missing Middle’ campaign, we are collectively building, shaping and empowering the country’s future leaders,” Prof Rensburg said.