Source: The University of Pretoria
The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP), a non-profit organisation, is a bursary scheme that provides financial aid through public-private partnerships to South Africa’s designated ‘missing middle’ category students who do not qualify for free tertiary education. The pilot programme was launched in four faculties at the University of Pretoria in 2017.
ISFAP aims to increase student success, empowerment, employment security, and skills in occupations of high demand, which are critical to meaningful, sustainable growth and development of the economy. The funding model offers innovative wrap-around support that includes student payments such as university fees, accommodation, books, meals, and stipends together with other additional academic and social support such as mental health talks, mentoring and learning communities, life-skills training, career guidance, and work readiness, industry opportunities, access to project managers and an online student platform. The programme aims to increase the throughput rates of students in higher education institutes, improve the employability of funded graduates and ultimately change lives.
ISFAP prides itself on its alumni community of graduates to build professional networks, share business contacts and find job opportunities and, in return, provide testimonials, motivation, and mentoring to undergraduates. Current students receiving the bursary give back to the economy by completing vacation work at companies and performing community service every year across South Africa. The purpose of this balanced programme is to enhance professional development in our youth, ensure students are relieved from financial and other burdens to cope at university, provide holistic need-based assistance for high performance, secure a platform for developing student agency, and add value to teaching and learning. Dedicated project managers at each faculty within the University are responsible to monitor and reflect on student progress, referring them to university and external support structures according to their individual needs, and implementing activities and initiatives that benefit and develop a well-rounded student in the workplace. Once onboarded, students become part of the ISFAP community on campus, which enables them to connect with other students and access the resources available as part of wrap-around support.
Above are six of the 45 ISFAP EBIT graduates who have been part of our alumni community since 2017. Graduates include students in chemical, civil, computer, metallurgical, mechanical, mining, industrial, electronic and electrical engineering. ISFAP strives to equip its graduates with a strong vision in life, a willingness to succeed, to become highly organised, the ability to practice their skills, and a positive mental attitude.
Projects initiated and designed for ISFAP students are aimed at meeting the student's needs at the time and differ according to cohorts to ensure continuous and relevant learning and improvement. Projects in the first semester included workshops on planning skills, study techniques, and time management, events focused on ethics for professionals, experts from the field, and student talents and mental health talks. These are supported by programmes such as individual check-ins and goal setting, cognitive skills training, financial management, developing healthy habits and work readiness, motivation, tutoring, and mentor support that runs throughout the year. ISFAP wants to produce successful, honest, resilient students in the workplace who offer unique skill sets with confidence, consistency, and commitment to potential employers.
Online applications (https://applyonline.isfap.org.za) are open from 30 May 2023 and encourage prospective students who meet the financial requirements, academic criteria, and registration for the approved courses funded at UP. Donations can be made via www.isfap.org.za
Please follow us on social media platforms to support this initiative:
Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCP-muJSGvqNBlayYyjol5bw