Stellenbosch University (SU) has added #Action4Inclusion to their growing list of student funding initiatives aimed at ensuring academic inclusion and the scrapping of historical debt for all deserving students.
Established by the SU Student Representative Council (SRC) and SU Law Faculty Trust Chair in Social Justice, Prof Thuli Madonsela, #Action4Inclusion will ensure that no student is left behind due to their financial circumstances.
Explaining #Action4Inclusion further, Madonsela says, “Unlike other existing initiatives at the institution, #Action4Inclusion will operate as a crowdfunding initiative that uses action to draw attention to the plight of students and get South Africa and hopefully the rest of the world to donate to the crowdfunding.
“We will organise a walk, climb Table Mountain and the Drakensberg. The crowdfunding is targeting the private sector but instead of asking for millions, our approach is to say they must donate whatever they can towards the cause.
“We are looking at expanding to other institutions because the plight of students being excluded from universities for non-academic reasons is a national crisis. However, charity begins at home and we are asking the Stellenbosch alumni to join hands with us," says Madonsela.
SU's SRC Chairperson, Lewis Mboko, expressed his excitement on their plans of rolling out the #Action4Inclusion initiative to the rest of the country.
“I believe that in order to solve the issue, everyone should be part of the problem solving, from SRCs to students, and up to management."
According to Arrie Hanekom, Deputy Director and head of the Centre for Undergraduate Bursaries and Loans, the new funding will come in handy, particularly for international students who do not fall within one of the two categories of students needing financial assistance.
Hanekom says apart from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which caters specifically for the category of students who come from households with an income of below R350 000, SU has a number of bursaries for the 'missing middle' category – students from households with an income ranging between R350 000 and R600 000 per annum.
“Since the beginning of last year, SU committed to filling the financial gap left by NSFAS for students who do not receive full funding from the financial aid scheme. So we committed to this in 2019 already," adds Hanekom.
He says although funding aid schemes such as NSFAS, the Thuthuka Bursary and the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) are available, SU has also introduced a new interest-free loan scheme, which seeks to support the missing middle.
He says the size of these loans are equivalent to the tuition fees of students and are provided interest-free during the study period and become repayable at a fixed prime rate per year after completion of studies.
“We decided to focus on the missing middle category because these students are just as financially needy as those receiving funding from NSFAS. In most cases, this group of students cannot afford to study without financial support, as their parents have limited access to credit from financial institutions," he says.
For more information on the types of funding available for students, click here.