Written by Alan Hammond
Private or external study bursaries are available from South African companies to capable students on a yearly basis. This year De Beers, Old Mutual, SA Institute of Race Relations, SA Weather Service, Spoornet and Vodacom are just a handful of bursaries available to promising students. Owing to our country’s scarce and critical skills list, many mining and engineering companies in particular provide contract bursaries (repayable via one year of work for every year of study); it’s just matter of applying for them.
You can also check the Bursary Register, which you will find at your university or school’s financial aid office, or your local library (it costs about R120), and will provide a full list of bursaries available in your chosen field of study. Remember, a bursary is a gift that does not have to be repaid unless you fail.
Bursary criteria differ per company, but generally when granting bursaries companies ask that a learner is studying towards a degree or qualification at a South African university that is in line with their field of expertise (for example, a bursary through the Auditor General South Africa asks that you be studying towards a qualification as a Chartered Accountant (CA) at a South African University accredited by the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants.)
Learners need to maintain a good academic standard through their degree or first/second years of study in order to qualify for a bursary. Sometimes this means an overall average of 65%, or sometimes it means producing a portfolio of work – this is company dependant. Bursary holders may also need to have done some kind of volunteer work or perhaps worked in the industry at some point during their degrees in order to qualify. Some bursaries also stipulate that learners be registered for full-time programmes of study, and that students are Senior i.e. in their final year of study.