Excellent students honoured with top NMMU scholarship

The recipients of the University’s top academic bursary will meet Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, who initiated the scholarship in 2009 to attract …

EXCELLENCE will take centre stage this week when 25 students are recognised as the latest cohort of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) Vice-Chancellor’s Scholars.

ACKNOWLEDGING EXCELLENCE … Many of this year’s cohort of 25 NMMU Vice-Chancellor’s Scholars have elected to study in the School of Accounting. They are seen here with two of their lecturers. All 25 students will be recognised at a special function at the University this week. 

The recipients of the University’s top academic bursary will meet Vice-Chancellor Prof Derrick Swartz, who initiated the scholarship in 2009 to attract and inspire top-performing school-leavers to study at NMMU, at a celebratory cocktail event at the university on Friday, 18 March.

This year, NMMU received more than 300 applications from top students from throughout the country for the R82 000-a-year bursary. Half of the final recipients come from non-fee paying schools.

“Excellence achieved under difficult circumstances is exceptional. We have to commend and recognise the dedication and commitment it must have taken for these particular students to achieve exceptional results,” said Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning Prof Denise Zinn.

The successful students have enrolled in six of the University’s seven faculties,  half of whom are studying BCom Accounting, while three each have chosen Mechatronics and Pharmacy.

Apart from the scholarship which covers tuition, accommodation, books and transport, the recipients are also privy to a tailor-made developmental support programme, including academic support and mentorship. Students are expected to continue with their excellent academic results in order to retain the bursary year on year.

To date, NMMU has supported 187 students through its Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, many of whom are already making a success in their chosen careers – from Fashion Design to Engineering.

Last year, the University was challenged during the 2015 national-wide student #FeesMustFall movement to ensure greater effort is made to have the VC’s Scholarship include students with top marks from less privileged schools.

While the #FMF students initially demanded that at least 30% of the recipients should come from disadvantaged schools, Prof Swartz hoped this figure would be at least 50%.

This particular commitment made during a mass meeting early in November 2015 is part of a wider initiative by NMMU to ensure that no academically deserving but financially challenged student is denied the opportunity of studying further, and that learners who before would ordinarily not make it to especially previously white universities, are given an opportunity .

For this reason, the University also introduced debt and down payment relief to give such students the benefit of either starting or continuing their studies. More than 6200 students – or about 80% of applicants – were successful in attaining this temporary financial relief.

The 2016 VC’s Scholarship cohort – chosen by a selection committee consisting of top academics, including deans and deputy-vice chancellors – will be formally acknowledged and congratulated along with their families at a function in the South Campus Auditorium.

Apart from the VC’s Scholarship, Prof Swartz has introduced the Summit Scholarship aimed at encouraging successful NMMU undergraduates to continue with their honours studies as part of a larger NMMU strategy to support students with their studies.