On 18 November Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the North-West University (NWU), hosted Morné du Toit, chief executive officer, and Jethro Hill, IT operations manager of the Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP), for a strategic discussion and a special tour of the Potchefstroom Campus.
ISFAP implements a unique funding model to sustainably cater for the higher-education needs and expenses of South Africa’s poor and middle-class students, mainly students aiming for careers in occupations of high demand. These occupations include actuaries, accountants, engineers, medical doctors, pharmacists, nurses, data scientists and prosthetists.
Students from middle-class households are often left in dire financial straits since they do not qualify for funding though the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), which only assists students from poor households.
The NWU and Prof Tyobeka are therefore passionately committed to finding ways to address the plight of the “missing middle” and to source funding for students. The invitation extended to the ISFAP executives was one such initiative to achieve the above-mentioned goals.
Prof Tyobeka kicked off the visit with a tour of some of our flagship facilities and initiatives hosted on the Potchefstroom Campus. It ended with a working lunch to design concrete steps for including a range of NWU qualifications in the ISFAP portfolio of bursaries for 2024.
The tour began with the National Aquatic Bioassay and the X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) facilities. They moved on to the Centre for Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Services; the Pharmatech labs at PharMaCen; and the Laboratory for Analytical Molecular Biology. The tour ended at the fine coal dry beneficiation winnower and the mechatronics workspace in the Faculty of Engineering.
ISFAP’s programme has not previously included the NWU as a target university and the goal of the high-level visit was to share ideas on matching the opportunities at and needs of the NWU with the aims of ISFAP to broaden its footprint, especially into North West. In this respect, says Ben Zaaiman, the NWU’s senior manager for Development and Fundraising, the meeting between the CEO and the VC has been a remarkable success.
More about ISFAP
ISFAP was established to provide a funding model to sustainably cater for the higher-education needs and expenses of South Africa’s poor and middle-class students.
According to ISFAP, their funding programme, which started in 2016, aims to fast-track South Africa’s skills production for the 21st century by funding the higher-education expenses, mainly of students studying towards a career in occupations of high demand (OHDs). These careers include actuaries, accountants, engineers, medical doctors, pharmacists and prosthetists.
Eligible candidates are South African citizens whose annual income is below R600 000 per annum.
ISFAP is supported by large industry partners, including Business Leadership South Africa, BASA, ASISA, SAICA, FirstRand Foundation, Standard Bank, Nedbank, Citibank, Hollard, Inseta, Merseta and South 32.
ISFAP says they hope in due course to expand their funding base so that they can partner with all 26 public universities in South Africa.
Jethro Hill, IT operations manager of ISFAP, Prof Bismark Tyobeka, principal and vice-chancellor of the NWU, Morné du Toit, chief executive officer of ISFAP, and Clement Manoko, NWU’s executive director for Corporate Relations and Marketing, during ISFAP’s visit to the Potchefstroom Campus.
Starting the tour in two NWU golf carts: Ben Zaaiman, head of Development and Fundraising behind the wheel, Prof Bismark Tyobeka (in front), together with Morné du Toit and Clement Manoko.
Jethro Hill, IT operations manager of ISFAP, and Warren Makgowe, NWU director for Stakeholder Relations.