The Motsepe Foundation invited 26 SRC members of public universities in SA to one of their initiatives called, Universities in Dialogue on 16 February 2023. The purpose of the session was to engage SRCs on how they can work together to ﬁnd solutions to student challenges.
The conversation centred around four key questions which formed the basis of the engagements. These questions were:
- What are the challenges facing the students?
- What are the challenges faced by SRCs?
- How could private partnerships better support the Higher Education sector?
- How do you see the various stakeholders collaborating for the betterment of the higher education sector?
Some of the challenges raised by the students in attendance included:
- Lack of funding for Postgraduate students
- Student accommodation
- Food security
- Youth unemployment
- Student allowances not realistic to the material conditions.
- Lack of support for disabled students, and;
- Lack of sanitary towels.
The following are some of the proposed solutions:
- Centralisation of funding from various funders.
- Policy development to regulate funding opportunities.
- The creation of a feeding scheme in higher education for students so that the allowances can be directed to some of the urgent students’ needs.
SMU Director of Student Aﬀairs, Mr. Tulani Nkuntse indicated that this was such an important day for student leaders as the Foundation donated 30 million Rands as a contribution to helping SRCs to ﬁght challenges faced by students.
In her speech, Dr Motsepe urged the student leaders present, to take the money and approach other possible donors to challenge them to either match or exceed what the Foundation had donated.
“For SMU, this means so much as we have serious problems with outstanding student debt that prohibits them to continue their studies. We have a cohort of our students that go hungry on a daily basis because they have no means to support themselves; there are realities of the ECP students who are no longer funded by NSFAS and the list goes on, said Nkuntse”.
Nkuntse further indicated that the generous and kind contribution by the Motsepe Foundation will be channelled towards assisting SMU students in the best way possible. “We would like to call upon other people to join hands with us and assist us to support our students through these kinds of donations. Our SRC has constantly reiterated their commitment to raising funds to assist needy students and we fully support them as such contribution will assist with the ongoing eﬀorts by the university to raise funds and support its student population”, he concluded.
The gratitude expressed by students for these donations was heart-warming and illustrated a deep commitment and passion young people have towards provision of solutions to the problems in the higher education sector.
SMU is grateful to the Motsepe Foundation and look forward to many more donors coming on board to help us ﬁght challenges faced by the students.