By Masego Panyane
Less than one in 10 of the students in need of financial help received assistance from the funds raised earlier this year in the “One million, One Month” campaign, according to a report released by the SRC.
In total, 219 of 2 400 needy students were assisted by the campaign which raised over R3.5 million for the SRC’s humanitarian fund.
The SRC started up One Million, One Month as a way to raise money for students who could not receive funding due to a shortfall in National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). More than 2 700 students were left stranded after NSFAS said it would not be able to fund the students – many of them returning students.
At the time, then-SRC president Mcebo Dlamini said the goal was to help all the students, estimated to be 2 788, get funding.
“Our wish is to take all 2 788 students to class because that is the future of our nation…I can’t lose 2 788 students, it’s not only them it’s their families as well,” said Dlamini at the launch of the campaign in February this year.
Current SRC President Shaeera Kalla said the university’s funding mechanisms managed to absorb approximately 300 students that had been affected by the crisis. Of the remaining 2 400, only 219 were able to receive full or partial funding.
Kalla said the SRC had made it clear that they would not be able to assist all the students that applied for funding. The SRC set up a process to select students with the criteria for funding included selecting returning students who could afford to pay part of their fees and new students who qualified for NSFAS but were rejected due to a shortage of funds.
“There were students who we helped fully because they met the criteria, but then we had to start digging into students who paid a little bit, who met the criteria,” Kalla said.
“At this point in time, 67% of the students we assisted [with partial funding] have got bursaries,” Kalla said.
Some funds were also used to pay outstanding fees of some students from 2014.
A large portion of the funds was used to assist students who needed partial upfront payment for the academic year. The next biggest item of spending was on accommodation with 47 students being assisted. Only 11 students received complete assistance in terms of tuition, accommodation, meals and books.
The Faculty of Humanities had the most students to receive funding, 76, followed by Engineering and the Built Environment. Only three students from the Faculty of Health Sciences received funding.
The report also said there would be a need for future funding, which is why SRC was trying to set up an endowment fund for the emergencies that rise up for students during the year. While the details of this fund have not been finalized, Kalla said it has been approved by the University Council.