February 24, 2024

R13.7 billion cut to student funding – public support needed

3 min read

South Africans can make a difference in the lives of young students who dream of becoming the professionals who can build and shape our country in the future. The news of a R13.7-billion cut in the budget for higher education will have a massive impact on these academic ideals and hopes to equip young people with the needed skills to enter gainful employment.

Based on initial calculations, the 10% reduction in university funding announced recently in the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement could mean as many as 87 712 students would be left unfunded in 2024. The number is projected to grow to more than 120 000 in the next academic year. 

“Our students are in a crisis and we need to be a part of the solution. With a drastic government budget cut to the funding of tertiary education and a youth unemployment rate sitting at 43.4%, we cannot afford to stand idly by and hope this goes away,” says Cara-Jean Petersen, CEO of Feenix.

“Our organisation was started after the #FeesMustFall protests to connect students with the financial means they need to graduate or to pay off their historic debt. This work continues to this day and we have helped raise over R172 million, impacting 3 934 students across the country.”

The education funding crisis is a huge challenge and is not going away anytime soon, she adds.

“We need to be proactive in coming together and connecting tertiary students in need with financial support so they can continue striving toward achieving their educational goals. We call on all everyday individuals like you and me and our business partners across sectors with CSI [corporate social investment] and skills development budgets to invest in the education of tertiary students in need.

“Had someone not invested in us, would we be where we are today? Let’s pay it forward and support the upcoming generation who can take this country forward to a place of prosperity. You can make a tangible difference by donating to the Feenix #BeTheSolution Campaign and helping our students graduate this year with a certificate in hand as opposed to another gut-wrenching invoice.

“With more students educated and graduated, we can start rebuilding our workforce with talented young people committed to creating a healthier society in South Africa.”

Petersen says their organisation has seen the benefits of offering students an all-inclusive type of support package that supports young people to thrive.

“Yes, tuition fees are the biggest need, but students also need mentorship and counselling. There are also practical day-to-day things they need, such as food vouchers, job shadow opportunities, or even the use of a laptop so they can submit their assignments after hours.

“Our call to all those who hope to live in a flourishing South Africa is to dig deep and think, ‘What can I do to help, and what can I do to make their dreams come true?’. Our young people need us to step up and help them so they can be equipped to build a better country for generations to come,” adds Petersen.

Your urgent donation will help students pay off their debt and obtain their degree or certificate, and allow these students the opportunity to achieve their educational dreams and enter the job market.

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