University of Pretoria: R500 million in academic funding distributed by the University of Pretoria in 2021

The University of Pretoria (UP) allocated an estimated R500 million to about 8 000 students in 2021 in the form of University-managed and external bursaries.

Due to historic debts and financial challenges, many students find themselves having to abandon their studies; prospective students are also often unable to access higher education.

“UP believes that academically deserving students should not be prevented from accessing a higher education institution owing to financial reasons,” said UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe. “Those with academic abilities must be assisted with funding within the parameters set by the University’s policies and available funding. UP does this by working through its Fundraising Office, a division of the Department of Institutional Advancement (DIA), and hand in hand with stakeholders. We will do everything we can to ensure that no under-resourced students are left behind.”

During a donor-appreciation webinar last year, Prof Kupe indicated that a degree or any other form of education remains a dream for many in South Africa, given the increasing gap between rich and poor. The COVID-19 pandemic, he added, exacerbated this challenge. This is where donors come in.

“Donating in various ways to the establishment in the form of grants and bursaries has been the perfect example of leading from the front to contribute to solving the student funding crisis,” Prof Kupe said. “Between 2019 and 2021, about 244 staff donors contributed to various projects on campus – these contributions amounted to more than R1 million.”

The DIA focuses its efforts on securing bursaries from external donors to supplement University loans and bursaries. These grants vary in amount and duration, and donors usually set the criteria for eligibility. In order for students to be considered for a bursary, they need to register for financial aid on UP’s PeopleSoft student portal.

“UP’s DIA Fundraising Office works closely with donors and senior development officers, who have good working relationships with various donors,” said Hernan Finkel, Deputy Director of Relationship Management and Fundraising. “We also work with the Financial Aid Office to find student/s that meet the specific criteria of a particular donor. It is pleasing and amazing to realise that UP has helped so many students over the past three years. We are also grateful to our Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Kupe, who is our chief fundraiser.”

Funding from corporates, non-governmental institutions and sponsors is given directly to eligible students but administered with the assistance of UP. The University provides all the necessary documents (academic transcripts and fees statements) and any other information required by funders after registration. The requirements for academic and financial eligibility are determined by funders and tend to vary according to the programme of study.

Every financial aid sponsor – including the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), UP, corporates and non-governmental organisations – has minimum standards that students must meet to be guaranteed continued funding. As academic performance is a crucial requirement stipulated by most funders, it is important that students demonstrate their commitment to their studies.

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