A new take on bursaries wants to focus on ubuntu 

The mental health awareness initiative, ‘Adopt a Student,’ founded by a University of the Witwatersrand graduate in 2019, is switching gears and will transform into an education trust administering bursaries, skill development, and support for students from disadvantaged communities.  

 The aim of the trust is to address gaps in other bursaries such as mental health issues that play a role in students losing their funding. It also wants to reconsider the requirement that potential recipients obtain high marks to get funding, something it says hinders high school learners. 

Imfundo Enhle Education Trust founder, Lucy Khofi, said that the trust will not require marks as a part of its criteria when applying. “Motivational letters will be playing a huge role [ when applying] ,” said Khofi.  

Wits University student and JB Marks bursary holder, Thandiwe Nqanda, says that there are many inequalities in the current bursary schemes that need to be rectified.  

“The bursary criteria, whereby you can only receive a bursary with a certain percentage, disregards the average student and gives impression that they don’t have a chance in university,” Nqanda says. 

 “It’s not good enough to just give out bursaries, students need support,” said Khofi.  

The former gender and transformation officer of the SRC says that during her term in office she witnessed students who lost bursaries and had to go back home because of low marks. She says it is not because they are not smart, but because they lacked academic support.  

To close the loop, the new fund will have dedicated psychologists and social workers to help meet students. 

The scheme will also focus on students facing financial exclusion, by providing emergency funding which will be available throughout the year. “There is no bracket to limit how much money will be given at the moment, as it will be assessed on a need basis,” said Khofi. However, emergency funding will be provided for students who also need to register but cannot due to outstanding fees. If a student owes more than R 100 000, the fund will cover 50% of their debt, while any amount of R 90 000 and less will be covered in full. 

The fund is set to launch during the first week of November 2021 and by 2022 targets awarding 20 000 bursaries.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Students going through motivational letter. Photo: Amanda Khumalo.