Having established close ties with the university’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the fund is now also offering full bursaries to students in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences.
This year, it is providing a full package of support – including payment of fees and money for books, as well as the provision of a mentorship and work-placement programme – to seven students at the university. Two of them are studying medicine and the other five are enrolled to study economics and management.
The fund was established by the Oasis Group, which offers a range of investment products and services, in the belief that private-sector support is crucial for education. The company views education as a fundamental pillar of the country’s development as a nation.
The fund adopts a holistic approach to choosing whom to support. Bursaries are allocated on the basis of academic performance as well as psychometric assessments that measure the cognitive abilities and emotional and personal strengths of prospective students. After selection, the academic performance of the chosen students is continuously assessed throughout the academic year.
The bursaries provide full tuition fees throughout the duration of the studies, including at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, subject to the students’ performance; and cover the costs of all prescribed books and materials.
The Oasis bursary package also offers guidance and a range of employment and outreach opportunities. A mentor is assigned to each student providing guidance as well as academic support. Twice a year, during the holidays, the students are provided with fortnightly work placements in line with their fields of study.
Upon graduation, the bursary students may be offered employment by the Oasis Group, which can entail an international placement with one of the firm’s global partners.
In addition, beneficiaries are encouraged to give back to their communities by participating in the outreach activities organised as part of the company’s public benefit initiative.
Medical graduates sponsored by the fund participate in a health awareness programme offered both to the firm’s employees and members of the local community.
Oasis has also identified early childhood development as a major area of development in the field of education; and has provided more than R5 million to develop the sector.
“The overall programme aims to foster excellence and success and to reward hard work and achievement,” says Juwairia Mallick, who administers the fund’s bursaries. “More broadly, the aim is to contribute to the growth and widening of the skills base in South Africa.”
Since its inauguration in 2002 by the late Professor Fatima Meer, the programme has granted more than 100 bursaries at the tertiary level and provided 48 school pupils with financial support. At present the fund is supporting 32 university students and 29 pupils.
“Our Maties students are some of our top-achievers and exceed bursary requirements year on year,” says Juwairia.
The success of the programme led to a recent meeting about forging closer ties between the fund and Maties between the Chief Executive Officer, Adam Ebrahim, and the Deputy Chairman of Oasis Group Holdings, Nazeem Ebrahim, and the Dean of the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, Professor Ingrid Woolard, and Candice Egan, who raises funds from companies and the government for the university.
“We would like to expand our exposure and engagement at Stellenbosch University, hence our increased interaction,” says Juwairia.
It has been proposed that more students will be added to the current list of Oasis-sponsored students at Maties.