The Academic Staff Association of Wits University (Asawu) has donated R100 000 to the #Access campaign, which aims to raise R10 million by the end of February for students they classify as the “missing middle.”
The academic trade union held a poll among its members to ascertain whether the donation should happen or not, and over 87% of those who voted agreed to the donation.
#Access is a campaign organised by the Student Representative Council’s (SRC) to help students in the “missing middle” who cannot afford fees but are not poor enough to qualify for National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), “We are excited and pleased to support this initiative”
“The funds will be used to address funding shortfalls and the clearing of existing debt for students seeking to return to Wits,” Asawu said in a statement.
The union has over 750 members of whom, approximately 280 participated in the poll.
“The money will come from the Asawu reserves. Which is money that we have saved over the years in order to support strategic priorities or legal fees of members,” said David Hornsby, the president of Asawu and International Relations senior lecturer.
Hornsby also said, “We are excited and pleased to support this initiative”.
The SRC’s #Access campaign is part of the student formation’s humanitarian fund and it received a R2-million donation from one of South Africa’s largest banks, Nedbank, on the day it was launched.
Along with the proceeds from the O-week beer garden, the SRC organised a flea market, a raffle, a “Fill Up The Jar” campaign and has a donation portal on the Wits University website to raise funds for the campaign.
The campaign happens against the backdrop of continuing protests from many of the country’s university campuses for free education.
“This really underscores the commitment that Wits academics maintain for improving accessibility to those in need and how we collectively recognise the importance of higher education to the development aspirations of South Africa,” Hornsby said.