Donors’ event highlights the plight of postgraduate students and the “missing middle”

The North-West University (NWU) hosted a donors' event in Sandton, Johannesburg on 5 October 2023 to reach out to its various donors, bringing them up to date with what is happening at the university and to discuss the dilemma of the “missing middle”.

A recurring theme at the event was the challenge faced by "missing middle" students. The parents of these students earn too much to qualify for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), yet they can't afford to pay for their children’s education.

Due to the current economic situation in the country, there has been a significant increase in academically qualifying but financially needy students who do not qualify for NSFAS funding.

Postgraduate students also face difficulties in securing funding, as most available bursaries focus on undergraduate studies.

With this challenge in mind, NWU principal and vice-chancellor Prof Bismark Tyobeka emphasised the importance of postgraduate studies for the development of a knowledge economy in South Africa.

He added that the NWU launched a pilot initiative to allocate more funding from its budget to postgraduate studies in the previous academic year. However, the utilisation of this opportunity by students was low, with only 40% of the allocated funds being used for postgraduate qualifications.

“The university has taken this as a learning experience and plans to allocate the same amount of funding for postgraduate studies in the future, but with different allocation strategies and a reduced number of funded students,” he said.

Prof Tyobeka urged donors to continue supporting the NWU and called upon them to support academically and financially deserving students from the "missing middle" pool.

On a positive note, Prof Tyobeka reassured donors that the NWU is financially stable and highlighted the university's recent achievements in international rankings.

He expressed his gratitude to the donors, emphasising that they are investing in a winning institution, as is evident from the university's achievements and statistics.

Percy Moleke, chairperson of the NWU’s Board of Donors, also commended the NWU for recognising the importance of donors.

“The NWU is one of a few institutions in the country that has established a donor board to ensure transparency and accountability in the use of funds contributed by donors.” She added that the board will provide a report to donors, enabling them to make informed decisions about the future of workforce development and economic growth in the country.

Bert Sorgdrager, chairperson of the NWU Council, encouraged donors to become more involved by explaining the composition and responsibilities of the NWU Board of Donors. He assured donors that their contributions are properly managed and mentioned that various council members are actively engaged in relevant university subcommittees. These include the student life committee, finance and audit committee and the asset committee.

NWU Donors Event

Various donors of the NWU attended the event in Sandton.

NWU Donors Event

From left are Prof Daryl Balia, deputy vice-chancellor for IT and Potchefstroom Campus operations, Clement Manoko, executive director for corporate relations and marketing, Percy Moleke, chairperson of the NWU Board of Donors, Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor, Prof Linda du Plessis, deputy vice-chancellor for planning and Vanderbijlpark Campus operations, Prof Mala Singh, executive director for people and culture, and Elmarie de Beer, executive director for finance and facilities.

NWU Donors Event

Prof Bismark Tyobeka, the NWU's principal and vice-chancellor.

NWU Donors Event

Bert Sorgdrager, chairperson of the NWU Council.

NWU Donors event

Percy Moleke, chairperson of the NWU Board of Donors.

Submitted on Tue, 10/17/2023 - 08:56