Different from bursary systems common to Europe and Canada, South African bursaries are nonetheless incredibly useful to students in the region offering great awards for those willing to step up to the plate. Bursaries for South African students are a patchwork of mostly private programs mixed in with some government bursaries and then a few mixed private/public collaborations. At first glance it may appear very chaotic, messy in many respects and perhaps difficult to navigate. However, once you’ve learned how South African bursaries tend to work, the system works very well and offers awards that many European or Canadian bursariessimply cannot compare to.
Though South Africa bursaries lack the elegance of the single form bursary application system common in many western countries, available programs are advertised quite readily and many are listed in bursary information packets available at individual universities. Even those that are not listed in such information packets are generally fairly easy to find if a searching student is willing to put in a little bit of time and effort.
Because the number of bursaries offered by the national government is relatively limited, large and even local companies have filled the fiscal void in a way which not only provides students with financial assistance but further helps to ensure that there is a readily available employment pool of skilled workers available for projects around the country. While it could be argued that such a situation works best for companies and less well for financially needy students, with the employment situation and development issues within South Africa it in many ways benefits the country as a whole.
Though the number of South African bursaries available through the government and local entities are limited, they certainly do exist. A first stop for a South African student, as is the same with a student from most Western nations, is their university’s financial aid department. Colleges in South Africa often offer their own bursary schemes for enrolled students whom have shown promising academic progress in their secondary and post secondary educations. These programs, compared to the full rides often offered by large South African companies, are generally fairly small but are certainly useful to students seeking financial aid.
Picking up a bursary information packet from the financial aid office at a university will give students a wide array of available South Africa bursaries which they may be eligible for. Normally managed by individual institutions, applying to these bursaries is normally as simple as submitting applications to the financial aid department and waiting to hear back regarding award status. Applying to these programs should always be a first step and students should do this as early as possible so that they can better assess the amount of money they still need for college if their award amounts do not cover all costs.
The next step for many students still searching for financial aid would be the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) which offers loans to those who can demonstrate monetary need. These programs often start out as loans which are required to be repaid, but in many cases can be converted into South African bursaries. The benefit of conversion should be fairly plain – if converted to a bursary, NSFAS loans do not have to be repaid. Like local bursaries offered by individual colleges, the NSFAS program can be applied to through the university a student is enrolled in.
One of the greatest differences between South Africa bursaries and those offered more commonly in the West is the prevalence of private programs. These private programs are very often highly competitive and provide an immense amount of money for students often covering not only the entirety of tuition but also covering living arrangement, meals, and travel needs. Differing from the South African bursaries offered by the national government and individual colleges, private bursaries very often focus highly on individual skill sets which are needed by the offering company. Beyond this, students entering a bursary agreement with a private company are very often required to work for them after graduation until the approximate cost of their bursary has been repaid. After that, their services may be terminated or they may find a long-term employment position with the company who paid for their schooling. This program type has a lot of really great benefits, but competitiveness around such private offerings often means that only those students who show exceptional dedication and great academic merit will find their ways into the programs.
Exxaro Bursaries South Africa