Two UFH Academics’ joint efforts result in R1.28 million funding for postgraduate students

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A shared desire to assist postgraduate students from the University of Fort Hare to produce and publish impactful research that contributes to the body of knowledge has led to two UFH academics securing a R1.28 million bursary from the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority’s (HWSETA) to fund 20 postgrads.

At the core of the collaborated effort by Dr Vuyokazi Lupuwana, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Social Work under the Faculty of Social Sciences, and Prof Willie Chinyamurindi from the Department of Business in the Faculty of Management and Commerce, is to remove the barrier imposed by the lack of funding for postgraduates in the path to academic success.

The funding was granted to UFH after their joint application to HWSETA’s Post Graduate Students Bursary Programme for 2022/2023 was successful.

HWSETA is an organization that is responsible for the education and skills development of the health and social development sectors with the objective to provide quality health and social services in world-class levels

The prerequisite for this bursary is postgraduate students who are either doing honours, masters or doctoral degrees in areas of studies that fall within the Health and Social Development discipline.

The 20 beneficiaries at UFH are students who are pursuing postgraduate degrees in Social Sciences such as Counselling Psychology, Psychology and Social Work, and from Management and Commerce, the beneficiaries are postgrads whose studies are in the Industrial Psychology field.

According to a memorandum of understanding between HWSETA and UFH, the intention of the bursary programme is to meet the demand of sectoral research and development and innovation capacity to influence planning and implementation in South Africa by developing research capacity and scientific leadership for scholars to become established researchers that promote study themes relevant to the health and welfare sector.

The bursary covers research-related costs such as data collection/fieldwork; travel; data analysis; report writing and finalization of dissertation acceptance including document editing, printing and binding. Additionally, the bursary will also support the recipients’ registration, tuition and other essential student needs.

According to Prof Chinyamurindi, in the past, the HWSETA has supported UFH students and has often done in pockets of isolation between faculties. "This year, the HWSETA noticed the application by Dr Lupuwana and myself and encouraged us to work together in a consolidated funding application that supports previously disadvantaged students.”

“The majority of our students come from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds, as a result without funding, some of them cannot continue with their postgraduate studies due to the financial burden. When we made the applications, we looked at unfunded students from disadvantaged backgrounds who are performing well and are committed to their studies.”

“This is an excellent opportunity to assist UFH students in completing their postgraduate studies while also making a contribution to the development of skills within the health welfare sector,” said the pair.

One of the beneficiaries, Franciska Verschoor who is doing her Masters Degree in Psychology, said being awarded the bursary has lifted a huge financial burden off her and her family’s shoulders. “Getting this bursary is a big deal for me. I have been relying on loans from family members to fund my studies and now that stress has been lifted from me and my family,” she said.

Another beneficiary, Mqokeleli Zaza who is also a Psychology Masters student, said pursuing a postgraduate degree without funding or being unemployed can be very challenging academically, financially and psychologically. “Now that I have this bursary, I will be able to focus on my studies without any worries about student debt. Also, it means when I complete my studies I will be able to cross the graduation stage to collect my degree and pursue my career with ease.”