Stellenbosch University (SU) has launched its new flagship bursary programme sponsored by philanthropic institution The Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation (CEFF) to the value of R9 million. During the launch the University also introduced the first cohort of 30 students who will benefit from the initiative over the next three years.
The programme, named the CEFF-Chancellor's Bursary Programme at SU, is specifically targeted at assisting 'missing middle' students and the scheme encompasses two dimensions: creating access by means of providing financial aid and facilitating the academic success of bursary holders.
The bursary offers top-up funding to qualifying students to a maximum of R75 000 per year, which can be used to assist in paying for study expenses such as tuition, accommodation, meals, study aids or books. In addition, the bursary also aims to optimise the probability of academic performance by offering 'wrap-around' support services. This includes mentoring, supplementary tutoring, peer learning and sharing events, psychosocial support, study skills, personal and professional development, supplementary academic support and referral of students for specialised services, based on their individual needs.
The 30 students, selected across nine faculties at SU, will each be supported for a period of three years, provided that they meet the academic progression requirements. The eligible students who comprise the current cohort were either nominated and subsequently invited to apply or they had already applied for funding / financial aid.
Dr Riaan Els, CEO of CEFF and himself a former grant recipient, congratulated the students and urged them to commit to ploughing back into the community just as the Foundation has made the investment in their professional development through the implementation of this bursary programme.
Paying it forward
After providing an overview of the history and grantmaking strategy of the Foundation, it was time to secure the assurance of the CEFF bursary holders. “I would like to ask for your commitment in identifying at least one person who you can help along the way. Be the best teacher, scientist, lawyer, engineer, accountant, and doctor, etc. that you can be, but also find at least one other human being who you can help. Can we count on you?"
With that, in a moving and defining moment, all 30 students rose as one to pledge their commitment to indeed make a difference by paying it forward.
Chancellor Justice Edwin Cameron, custodian of the programme, emphasised how proud he is to endorse the Chancellor's Programme and what an honour it is for him to occupy this position at Stellenbosch University.
“I get enormous joy from it, and why is that? It is to see young people like yourself leading our country and creating the future that my generation, black and white, have not sufficiently lived up to. I think our generation has made so many mistakes, but now you have the chance to make that difference"
He thanked Dr Els and CEFF for selecting Stellenbosch University as partners in designing and implementing this exciting initiative.
Financial peace of mind
Bursary recipient Dumisani Mugari, who grew up in challenging circumstances in rural Venda, related how, despite getting up at 5 o'clock each morning to travel 60 kilometers to attend a high school with an outstanding Mathematics programme, his dream of becoming a medical doctor was crushed by initially not being accepted for medical studies. However, after completing a degree in Engineering at VUT, he applied again and was accepted at SU, but now affording the studies was a major challenge. During the course of last week, he received the incredible news - confirmation that he would be awarded a Chancellor's bursary.
“It felt like I had been given a second chance in life to do what I really wanted to do, and that all those years of hard work and sacrifice have finally been recognised when someone came to aid me in my journey. As this bursary empowers me to escape the circle of poverty, which a lot of my brothers and sisters back home are still trapped in, I commit to plough it back into the community with the skills and network of people that I'll acquire through this programme."
Also Joy Schoor, who is in her second year of studying medicine at SU, described it as a huge relief when she heard that she would be offered this bursary. “It is a huge burden off my shoulders and those of my parents' because I have a brother who also needs to be supported. It is really amazing".
Catlin Kedian, who is in the second year of her Dietetics studies at the Tygerberg campus, said the bursary comes at just the right time as her family went through serious financial difficulties during the Covid-19 period. “This will have such an impact on my life as it will allow me to focus on what I am here to do and not to constantly worry about whether I can afford to do it," she said.
Photo: The Chancellor Bursary recipients are seen here (front row) with Dr Riaan Els, CEO of The Carl and Emily Fuchs Foundation, Prof Stan du Plessis, Chief Operating Officer of SU, Dr Ronel Retief, SU Registrar and SU Chancellor, Justice Edwin Cameron.