Wits has the highest number of candidates in the semi final round of the annual Nedbank and Old Mutual budget speech competition.

Witsies are in the lead with eleven candidates and the University of Cape Town and North West University respectively with six candidates each.

The competition is divided into two separate categories (undergraduate and postgraduate). The undergraduate category consists of five students and the postgraduate category which consists of six Witsies.

Undergraduates had to write a 2000 word essay on the causes of youth unemployment and offer solutions to the national crisis. Postgraduate students had to write a 3500 word essay about how the government can deal with the electricity cuts and shortages and the increase of electricity prices.

The essays are judged on academic merit and the final category winners are announced in February by the Minister of Finance.

The competition was first launched 42 years ago and gives economics students from different universities an opportunity to compete against each other for a cash prize of R30 000 in the undergraduate category and R150 000 in the postgraduate category.

“We are extremely proud of our students. I think having the most number of semi-finalists in the competition shows that our students worked hard and submitted a number of good essays,” said Janine Dingley organiser of the competition.

We guide students through the structure of their argument, formatting and referencing. We see this as a valuable writing experience. However, students have to research the topic on their own and formulate their own arguments. I think for most of our students, doing the initial research in class makes it easier for them to write the essay and enter the competition.

Once the finalists are announced, the school of economics and managements puts them in touch with former finalists to help them prepare for the final round of the competition.

Terry van Staden secured third position in 2012 and has secured third position in this years postgraduate category.

Witsies have done well in the budget speech competition over the last year three Witsies collectively won R95 000 for their essays.

Wits has produced 5 winners in the post graduate category since the beginning of the competition in 1972

Shaheen Seedat took first place in the postgraduate category in 2010 and Tshepo Machele claimed the undergraduate prize in 2008.