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Bursaries


Bursaries

Bursaries or bursary schemes open doors to endless opportunity for those with great potential to one day add substance and value to the market place. It is an investment ina student’s future – investing in particular people that show promise not only to grow and succeed but also are a specific type of person with characteristics and skills that will propel them further with professional guidance and support.

There is some confusion in the market as the words Bursary and Scholarship are used interchangeably – however there seems to be commonality where organisations who offer funding to students with an expectation for them to work for the organisation on completion of their degree, tend to be called Bursaries, Bursary Schemes or Bursary Programmes.

Scholarships

Scholarships on the other hand, are awarded to deserving students who have demonstrated particular talent, be it academic or sport achievements. Funding of this nature tend to not have any contractual obligations to work for the organisation. They usually are funded by Corporate Social Investment Funds or Foundations. These Funds and Foundations can offer a range of scholarship opportunities for prospective students.

Bursary Programme or Bursaries

A bursary is a term commonly associated with supporting a student through tertiary education. It is for those who are in need of financial assistance to further their education. This can come in the form of full cost funds or part funding – common practice though is seeing organisations funding the full cost, covering aspects from the actual tuition and textbooks to amenities like accommodation and even meals.

Organisations use these Bursaries to support potential students as wellas a fundamental corporate tool to contribute to their Talent Attraction Strategy to build future leaders for their organisation. According to research done by the South African Graduate Employers Association (SAGEA), the key reasons for employers offering bursaries relate to supporting their future talent pipelines, assisting students from disadvantaged communities, and meeting future scarce skill needs in the organisations.

Who are Bursaries offered too?

Ordinarily bursaries were offered to students in their 2nd, 3rd or final year of studies – but with organisations wanting to access the best of South African talent, there is a shift to offering bursaries at 1st year level – this not only broadens the range of candidates but also allows the organisation to support and nurture their bursars from the very start. Accounting, Commerce, Engineering and Finance are the faculties in which most bursaries are being offered at present countrywide.

What are the terms of Bursaries?

Bursaries typically come with a tie-back clause which means for every year of support provided by the organisation, the student signs a contract requiring them to work for the organisation for the same period of time – one year of support for one year of work.  In industry there are various names for this – tie-back, claw-back – the most eloquent being the ‘golden handshake’.

With the organisations support comes conditions to encourage the student’s growth. Students will usually have to maintain a certain academic level, they should show academic excellence in their results, and demonstrate leadership qualities. Unfortunately though this will not always guarantee a job at the end of the bursary – if the organisation doesn’t have the capacity to take you on after graduation then the tie-back clause will fall away.

What happens after completing a Bursary Programme?

Research done by SAGEA shows that the majority of bursary candidates expect to start working with their employer upon graduating. Unfortunately if bursary candidates are not expecting to start with the organisation upon graduating, most organisations provide little or no support to find other employment.

A Bursary Programme will pay for what costs?

Bursary offerings are very important when supporting candidates, with SAGEA showing that 60% of employers are including the cost of accommodation into bursary costs. The better the support from the programme the more at ease the candidates are, encouraging better performance and growth. If candidates are lucky they will even receive money for meals, pocket money, a travel budget, and even allowances for a PC or laptop. 

What support is offered for students undertaking Bursaries?

Organisation’s investment doesn’t stop at the end of the semester – SAGEA suggests that almost 90% of organisations provide access to Vacation Programmes for their bursars to give them insight and access to the world of work – developing their business acumen, giving them hands on experience and seeing how they fit within the corporate culture. 

It is important for organisations to develop their bursary candidates in preparation for the world of work. Organisations are investing their time into growing candidates with a solid induction process; work experience and supporting development by giving students access to activities like workshops and seminars. With over half of the employers who participated in the SAGEA research providing a mentor or buddy system, there is a strong emphasis on personal support rather than just monetary support.

How to apply to Bursaries

Employers look for a range of attributes in their bursars when transitioning into the world of work. Employers find bursars to have a keen willingness to learn, are committed to the programme, and are work well in teams. The skills that employers identify as lacking include a solid understanding of business, effective communication with others in both written and oral practices, a sense of self-awareness, and having a proactive view when it comes to problem solving.

How organisations find and select bursary candidates

When sourcing or looking for candidates organisations approach both at high school level and tertiary level. Sourcing bursary candidates from high school is done through multiple streams – including Company webpage, school career fairs, school visits, regional career fairs and social media. Tertiary candidates are sourced mainly through the company website. Tertiary sourcing is different from high school candidates as there are many more resources on campus, with organisations targeting advertising on campus, publications, campus presentations, career fairs, the career service portals, competitions, and social media.

When recruiting candidates for bursary programmes organisations sets the criteria heavily on academic marks. Further consideration is given to the need for financial support, whether the candidate is a good fit to the organisation, if the candidate has appropriate career aspirations in line with the company’s future aims and strong leadership potential.

The most popular way for organisations to screen and assess candidates is using panel interviews or behavioural-based interviews – this allows the company to assess what kind of person the candidate is, how their communication and interpersonal skills are, and whether they are proactive in relation to problem solving. It is also common for organisations to test candidate’s mathematic aptitude and English literacy over and above having their academic transcripts. A personality questionnaire has become a key factor in assessing candidates in order for the organisation to understand if the candidate will fit in with the culture of the company.

What is the difference between Bursaries and Scholarships?

Scholarships are the ‘bursary’ for the cream of the crop. For those students that stand out above the rest with excellence in a specific area – this may be an academic whizz, a killer athlete, someone showing leadership or entrepreneurial potential, or even someone who has put in time and effort into charity work and bettering their community. A Scholarship is merit-based funding awarded for achievement and excellence.

The intention of a Scholarship is not about getting the individual to work for the organisation, usually there is no tie-back clause associated with it – Scholarship’s intent is to support highly talented individuals in areas that will contribute to the growth of the South African economy.

As is the funding for Bursary Schemes, there is a full funding scholarship and there is a nominal amount of funding. The nominal amount is seen as a contribution to tuition so for example an organisation will give the candidate an amount of money to put towards their fees. Funding is usually provided through Foundations such as The Allan GrayOrbis Foundation and the Moshal Scholarship Programme, by a Private Company through their Corporate Social Investment division with a purpose of supporting the community, or by the University itself.

Bursary Schemes by Location

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