Wits Receives R150 Million For Missing Middle Support

Wits has secured a donation of R150 million so that deserving students who are part of the missing middle can get support. The missing middle are those students who can't afford to pay their fees out of pocket but don't qualify for government funding.

Wits has secured a donation of R150 million so that deserving students who are part of the missing middle can get support.

This R150 million is said to be one of the biggest donations the University of Witwatersrand has ever received.

Students who belong to the missing middle find it difficult to acquire funding for their studies. The missing middle are those too poor to afford university themselves but also not poor enough to qualify for government funding. Missing middle students are not eligible for NSFAS funding which requires students to have an annual household income of R350,000 or less. These students could come from large families where they cannot afford to pay for tertiary education or the student could have been made responsible to fund their own studies.

The Centenary Campaign has been set up so that they can support students in the form of funding research chairs and centres as well as contributing towards infrastructure and equipment that can be used at the University. The campaign was launched by Natie Kirsh who attended the University and donated the R150 million.

Wits is aiming to have received R3 billion by the end of 2022 which is when the University turns 100. 

“Wits is a national treasure renowned for its research and academic excellence, and commitment to social justice. It is imperative for all sectors of society to invest in research-intensive universities that have the ability to create new knowledge and to develop the high level skills required to advance society,” says Professor Adam Habib, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits.

A statement from the University read:

The Centenary Campaign aims to address one of the greatest challenges facing Wits and similar higher education institutions - the funding of talented students from the “missing middle” whose families are not wealthy enough to pay their fees but whose cumulative household income excludes them from accessing financial aid.

They have the vision of transforming the lives of talented students with this fund as Kirsh says, "Wits played an integral role in transforming my life. I am giving back with the hope that Wits can have the same impact in transforming the lives of young people for generations to come". 

They believe that a University education can heal inequality as well as improve social mobility and keep up the highest level of academic freedom.

"If we can give more people access to quality education at Wits, and attract top teaching and research talent, we can do so much more to tackle inequality, contribute to employment and drive sustainable development," concluded the statement from the University.

Read more about the Wits Centenary Campaign and Wits’ next chapter at http://wits100.wits.ac.za/.

Read the statement from Wits here.

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