DURBAN- A group of university students are ending their academic year on a high note after their fees were paid off, while others will undertake an internship to gain industry experience.
The recipients of the Baker Hughes Bursary and Internship Programme were announced during a virtual event last Friday. The programme is in its fourth year and has allocated around R1.4 million to 23 university students from across the country covering study and accommodation fees. The programme is administered by student crowdfunding organisation Feenix.
The country leader for transformation at Baker Hughes, Simo-Sihle Mvinjelwa, said the bursary programme supports students in engineering, accounting, sales and marketing with tuition.
Undergraduate and postgraduate students at the country’s 26 public universities were invited to apply for this year’s round of bursaries.
Mvinjelwa said some of the selected students would also receive practical experience by doing internship work with the company. This would help them become more attractive in the job market and better prepared prospective employees, he said.
“Corporations have a duty to invest in skills development initiatives as they have the power to help change the alarming unemployment statistics in South Africa,” he added.
Leana de Beer, chief executive of Feenix, said a lack of financial stability hampers the success of students.
“South Africa is blessed with an abundance of talented young people who want to build and grow our country. Each day in our work, we see the negative impact a lack of financial stability has on the success of a student, which is why we are grateful for partners like Baker Hughes, who invest in bursary and internship programmes. Feenix is able to tap into strong university networks to help find the most suitable student candidates for this bursary programme,” said De Beer.
She added that the country’s economic prosperity was closely linked with the education of its youth.
“South Africa's economic prosperity is directly tied to the education of its youth and their ability to create and partake in a mobilised economy. Unemployment rates, massive socio‐economic divides and economic stagnation indicate that while the South African education system is demographically non‐discriminatory, it is still not equitably accessible. We hope this bursary programme helps make education more accessible,” she said.
The programme has to date benefited 83 students with funding to the value of R4.8 million.
One of the recipients is 25-year-old Xolisile Sibiya from Jozini, northern KwaZulu Natal. She is a final year electrical engineering student at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) and said the bursary would help her pay off her academic fees.
Applications for next year will open in January 2022.