Banking giant Absa and Nelson Mandela University have joined hands and entered into a three year-partnership that will essentially alleviate the financial burden on hundreds of financially needy students through a multi-million rand investment.
On Monday, 7 August, 92 students from across the newly-named Nelson Mandela University campuses will officially receive bursary funding to the value of R5-million towards their 2017 tuition. A further 113 students, who owe an average of about R20 000 in tuition fees, will have their 2016 debt, to the value of R2-million paid off.
Identified beneficiaries include academically deserving students in commerce, the humanities, engineering, science and technology as well as those categorized as the “missing middle”.
Absa Provincial Managing Executive, Tshiwela Mhlantla, said the Absa CEO Scholarship Fund forms part of the Education and Skills Development pillar of the financial services group’s Shared Growth strategy, through which it undertook to invest R1.4-billion in education and skills training between 2016 and 2018 across the African continent.
“The overall objective of the Absa Scholarship programme is to support social change and economic growth by contributing to the improvement of enterprise as well as financial and life skills of the next generation by awarding scholarships to disadvantaged deserving youth to help them realise their potential,” Ms Mhlantla said.
The partnership comes at a time of increased efforts on the University’s part to widen access to academically deserving students, particularly from impoverished backgrounds, who would otherwise have no means to higher education.
Acting chief executive of the Nelson Mandela University Trust, Dr Denver Webb, welcomed the partnership, saying it was in line with the University’s mission and vision.
“On behalf of the University and the Trust, we really welcome this partnership with Absa because it is assisting us in our efforts to widen access to higher education for academically deserving students, particularly from poorer communities. This partnership is in line with the University’s mission and vision to widen access and provide quality higher education,” Dr Webb said.
Apart from the funding, other spin-offs of this partnership include opportunities for students to gain work experience and participation in leadership programmes as presented by Absa.
These include the support of 34 TVET colleges as part of the Department of Higher Education’s “Adopt a TVET” programme, strategic University support, focused on research and capacity development initiatives, School Governing Body training in partnership with the Department of Basic Education and Absa’s Ready to Work programme.
The Ready to Work skills development programme is freely available online, a four module programme that focuses on work, money, people and entrepreneurial skills – these aim to enhance employment and self-employment prospects and provides an additional certificate for one’s CV.
The 2017 Absa CEO Scholarship allocation is in partnership with 21 universities in South Africa and several others in the rest of the African continent.
Absa’s Shared Growth strategy focusses on three pillars namely – Education and Skills Development, Enterprise Development and Financial Inclusion.
Absa has been active in social investment for many years and has partnered with the University on numerous meaningful projects to support the youth, during this time.