UJ’s ‘Missing Middle’ campaign gets R2m boost | Fin24

UJ’s ‘Missing Middle’ campaign gets R2m boost

Aug 22 2016 19:06
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) ‘Missing Middle’ fundraising campaign, received a R2m cash injection from First National Bank (FNB).

The Missing Middle campaign seeks to address the plight of students deemed too rich to qualify for government support, but too poor to afford a loan. The sponsorship was confirmed with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between UJ and FNB recently, to support students who do not qualify for the National Student Finance Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and student loans.

“This year 3 500 students were assisted through funding,” said Kaamini Reddy, senior manager of strategic communications at UJ. The funds cover tuition, accommodation, books and other living allowances.

“It makes the student experience a valuable one,” said Reddy. For students to access funding, they should have academically qualifying marks on par with the acceptance criteria.

Read: Are you part of the missing middle?

Since being launched in February 2016, the Missing Middle campaign, raised over R70m. Some fundraising events include partnerships with external companies and corporates, like the City of Joburg and Microsoft, said Reddy. Presenters at the Winter School held recently, also made donations. “Presenters donated what would have been paid to them.”

Other fundraising events that are planned include the “Future Walk” which is a 5km and 8km run which is open to the public if they wish to participate in fundraising efforts, said Reddy. An art auction, which will go live from Tuesday, 23 August, is also intended to raise funds for e-learning resources. “Artists were commissioned and they donated their work to be auctioned,” she said.

Among the challenges of raising funding, Reddy said that UJ is not the only university that is raising funds. “Many other universities are digging into the same pool for funding.” UJ also has the “added burden” of raising funds for the auditorium which was burned down earlier this year. UJ is looking for a naming sponsor and this sponsorship could amount to R20m, she said.

A possible fee increase also adds to the challenges. The university has a bus service to link students across campuses. The increasing fuel prices and maintenance of buses add to costs. “Operational costs have to go up to have an academic institution worthy of attracting more students and international staff members,” she said.

The campaign is expected to continue in future. “That is the case for all universities,” said Reddy. “It is an ongoing challenge to provide additional students with access to education.” There are plans to broaden the scope and borders from which funding is sourced, she added.

Partnering with FNB

The partnership with FNB came about as a result of FNB’s strategy to support academically deserving students, said Reddy.

In an emailed response to Fin24, Kgosi Ledimo, CEO FNB Public Sector Banking said that FNB believes in supporting educational programmes that focus on developing communities and investing in young minds.

"As UJ's banking partner, we found it fitting to support the 'Missing Middlecampaign as it aims to empower the future leaders of this country."

The financial institution "continually" looks for opportunities to partner with "like-minded" institutions to support initiatives aimed as empowering the broader community, he said. 

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

uj  |  fnb  |  #feesmustfall  |  education  |  student protests


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