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With most of the students enrolled at Nelson Mandela University coming from outside of Gqeberha, and close to 20 000 students living in on-campus and off-campus residences, settling into university life can be a major adjustment.


However, the University’s Computing Sciences Department has taken on a holistic approach as part of their departmental bursary philosophy, which has reaped much success over the past eight years, according to Computing Sciences Head of the Department, Professor Jean Greyling.

DREAM TEAM: Pictured from left are Fezi Fani, Carol van Onselen and Geraldine Fraser who form the support team assisting recipients from the Computing Sciences Department’s bursary programme.

Prof Greyling attributed this success to the caring team who works closely with the bursary recipients. “Geraldine (Fraser) is the ‘mother hen’ at the res where some of our students stay – she is doing a great job of being aware of their social needs and challenges.

Carol (van Onselen) does all the admin work behind the scenes and gets involved in a big way in addressing social, medical and other challenges,” said Prof Greyling.

Students within the department are supported with much more than just tuition fees, books and accommodation. They receive Eye tests and spectacles, Medical/Dental assistance, Clinical psycho-social support, Transport assistance and a Tutor programme for academic support.

Van Onselen has been managing the Computing Sciences Department’s bursary programme since 2016. “The bursary programme is very rewarding. We know we are making a difference. I am very fortunate to have a job that gives funds to academically deserving and financially needy students who go out into the world with a good start,” said Van Onselen.

Bursary students are expected to give back by serving volunteer hours in the Computing Sciences Department as student assistants and/or at outside communities, like schools or NGOs, as a way of paying it forward. Students also donate back their books to the bursary programme.

Past bursary recipient Daniel Holmes said the skills he learnt as a student assistant in the department helped him in his career. “I feel the hours I had to do as a student assistant helped me to explain myself and the work I am doing or the concept I am implementing. This I find really helpful in industry,” said Holmes.

The department’s tutoring programme is headed up by Fezi Fani, who explains that senior students offer tailored tutoring sessions to the junior students.

KgopotÅ¡o Rashetle, a former student, said this academic support was invaluable. “I wanted to express my heartfelt gratitude for the department's bursary scheme, which has truly been a transformative experience for me. Beyond the financial support, the holistic approach - including mentorship and additional resources - has played a pivotal role in shaping not just my academic journey, but also fostering my personal and professional growth.”

The Computing Sciences Department houses new and existing bursary recipients in off-campus residences in Summerstrand, where they get extra care and support from Omega Lodge Student Accommodation Residence Manager Geraldine Fraser.

“I work closely with Carol and the two of us will always find a solution for any problem that may occur. Prof Jean Greyling is amazing, he is never too busy when I ask for assistance. The support they give to their students is remarkable,” said Fraser.

With a total of 186 students under her care she said the student community where students live, plays a huge role in how quickly they adapt to university life.

Former bursary recipient, Cwenga Ndudula, attributes his university success to the work the bursary team does.

“Carol, Prof Greyling and my res manager, mama G, have really been a beacon of hope for myself and many other students. I see this in real-time with my friends and peers in the bursary programme. You truly feel and are treated as an individual and your needs are specifically catered for, whether it be academically or otherwise. I am truly grateful to them”.