Change the world


Excellence, hard work and talent were rewarded at Nelson Mandela University last night, when 25 students were announced as the recipients of the prestigious Vice-Chancellors Scholarship.

The 25 students, doing studies in the University’s seven faculties, were awarded the R96 000 a year scholarship – up 8% on last year’s R89 000 in line with the annual fee increase – based on their excellent academic achievements at their respective high schools.

The scholarship, awarded during an intimate function at the North Campus Conference Centre, is renewable for each year of the scholars’ undergraduate studies, provided they maintain the levels of high academic achievement.

The sought-after Vice-Chancellors Scholarship (VCS) was introduced in 2009 with a view to attract talented students from a diversity of schools across the country, taking into consideration the different categories of schools and what constitutes excellence given the inequalities in the South African schooling system.

Presenting the coveted scholarships for the first time at Vice-Chancellor, Prof Sibongile Muthwa said the scholarship was just one of the many ways in which the university recognised and awarded top academic performance and widened access to higher education.

“I wish to congratulate you all and wish to acknowledge the principals of the schools from which the students come from because without your hard work, we would not be able to do our hard work. We therefore honour you,” she said.

“I also want to congratulate us, as the university community for having attracted such excellence to our institutions. These students could have chosen any institution, but chose to come to Mandela University.”

Mandela University has long shown a strong commitment towards ensuring that academically deserving students from diverse backgrounds are not excluded from getting a higher education because of a lack of funds.

The 25 scholars underwent a rigorous selection process, where they were chosen from a total 245 applicants from some of the country’s poorest and more affluent schools, with the majority (92%) coming from the Eastern Cape. The two other scholars come from the Free State Western Cape.

The 2018 Vice-Chancellor’s scholars are now counted among the more than 200 students who have to date been supported through the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, many of whom have gone on to make successes in their respective careers.

Prof Muthwa encouraged the students, who are transitioning from high school to the university environment, are entering higher education in the midst of major changes in the sector.

“You are entering university at a time when higher education in the country is emerging from major changes, which have seen students actively leading campaigns for social and education justice for students and workers at universities,” she said.

“Students around the globe have historically boldly taken up and pushed for social justice and change to bring about a more human and just world, fighting for what is right. The recent student protests in our country need to be seen in this wider socio-political context. It is not something that is unique to South Africa.”

She encouraged them to “not only continue your excellent academic preparation and effective educational behaviour, but also share these practices in ways of working with other students in your classes and motivate them to perform well academically”.

“What we need to do collectively, with you as students, is to ask what it is that we must to make sure that we build on the attitudes, aspirations, academic skills and resilience of our students so that we put them in the best possible place to succeed.

“We must look at how we build on these and integrate them into our strategies to succeed academically, experience personal growth and experience well-rounded socially conscious members of the community.”

Vice-Chancellors scholar Olona Maliwa said he was extremely grateful to the opportunity to make his dreams come true.

“Growing up in a less privileged community has not only offered me financial and academic challenges, but has helped me realise the value of education,” he said.

“I share the understanding that education is the most transcendent gift one can be given and allows us to have a foot in the door of the future. It is one gift that nobody can take away from you.

“I wish to extend my gratitude to the selection panel for their hard work. Personally I come from a community where dreams just stay dreams. People in my community would get a matric qualification and access to higher education but would be unable to follow their dreams due to financial difficulties.”

Olona said when he received the call confirming his acceptance into the scholarship, he realised that he was en route to realising his dreams.

“Now it’s not just a dream, but what I am living and for that I’m very grateful to the committee and I hope you will continue to play such vital roles in the empowerment of students in our society.”

Mandela University has remained steadfast in its resolve to enable deserving students from all walks of life to access a tertiary education. Once in the University system, students are given the necessary support towards ensuring their success so that they emerge well-rounded Mandela University graduates ready to take on, and change, the world.


Contact information
Mrs Jo-Ann Daniels
Deputy-Director: Marketing and Student Recruitment
Tel: 041-504 3084