Absa is stepping into the university funding gap, and has made R10-million donations to both University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) and University of Cape Town (UCT).
The bank made a contribution of R10-million to UCT’s Scholarship Programme, following vice-chancellor Dr Max Price’s appeal to the corporate sector to consider complementing the efforts to tackle higher education funding.
“We are grateful that Absa has responded magnificently to the call we made for corporates to come on board and work with universities and the government in resolving the funding challenges in higher education,” he says. “We would like to thank Absa for their generous funding of this Scholarship Programme.
The full amount received from Absa will be channelled towards funding for the missing middle students – whose family income is above the R122 000 per annum National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) threshold but below R600 000.
The R10-million scholarship is part of an additional R57-million that has been allocated by Absa towards the 2016 university tuition fees for 1 450 more students in need of financial aid across all universities. The bank is set to invest R210-million in 2017 to cover 3 000 university students across Africa.
Absa also made a R10-million donation to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), to support the so-called “missing middle” undergraduate students who face financial obstacles and challenges.
Maria Ramos, CEO of Absa, says: “As part of our commitment to building a more equitable and prosperous Africa for the next generation, we earlier this year launched our Shared Growth Strategy. One of its pillars is Education and Skills Development, for which we have put aside funding to support young talented people.”
The university will allocate the funds towards supporting a minimum of 250 students. The funding is in addition to the annual R2-million, 10-year sponsorship of 20 Wits University bursary students who are contracted to join the employ of Absa on completion of their studies.
“We feel a responsibility to make a contribution while long-term solutions to higher education funding are being developed. We trust that this contribution will assist Wits University to make quality education more accessible to the youth of South Africa,” says Ramos.
Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib says the university is particularly appreciative of the additional contribution from Absa.
“This will go a long way in assisting poor, talented students at Wits University to complete their programme,” he says. “Wits University and many of the other universities offer quality degrees that are well recognized in the world, and we produce world-class professionals, and if we are going to keep our universities functional and retain the quality, then we need to ensure that we get all the stakeholders participating in the university system and the private sector is one such participant.”