Trust gives help to 12 needy students

The Trust is providing assistance for 12 needy students in 2018, geared to new circumstances following an expansion of state aid for students.

In the past, the Trust’s bursaries met some or all of the cost of tuition fees for needy undergraduates. But now the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) is covering fees for many such students. After consultation with the University, the Trustees opted to provide some bursaries for needy students studying for honours degrees and to use the rest of the available funding to provide needy undergraduates with top-up grants for the purchase of textbooks and meals.

This decision means that in 2018 the Margaret Thomas Scholarship has been awarded to a BA (Honours) student, Thando Masiko, while Trust bursaries have been given to four other honours students in the fields of computer science, environmental science and microbiology.

Textbook and meal grants are being provided for seven undergraduate students across a range of disciplines including medicine and engineering. All the students receiving help are from families with gross household incomes below R122,000 (below about £7,200) per annum.

While the new state aid has made a difference, the level of hardship experienced by many poorer students remains a significant problem.

The University has assured the Trustees of the continuing need for the Trust’s support – particularly for a group defined as the “missing middle”, those students who do not qualify for NSFAS funding but are unable to afford higher education owing such factors as large family size relative to household income or coming from a single-parent family.

The University says there are thousands of students from poor households in need of top-up funding for textbooks, meals and accommodation. But the Trust is only able to provide such help for just seven students this year.

To enable the Trust’s valuable work to continue, the Trustees urge alumni and supporters in the UK once again to give as generously as you can. Even the smallest contribution can make a difference.

Please consider a one-off donation or a regular standing order. Remember that using gift aid can boost your donation if you are a UK taxpayer.

You may also wish to consider other ways of giving, such as through a legacy.

See the Donate page for further information.

Trust bids to comply with new data protection laws

The Government has made clear that there is no exemption for small charities such as the Trust when it comes to compliance with new data protection laws. This has placed an onerous regulatory burden on these bodies and the unpaid volunteers who give their time and effort to run them.

Nevertheless, preservation of your privacy is important to the Trust and we are committed to letting you know how we use your personal information and to making only responsible use of your data.

To this end, we would like to draw your attention to the Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions pages that have been added in the About section of the Trust’s website.

Please be aware that the Trust needs to hold the data of alumni and supporters who have made donations to the Trust – specifically: name, address, email address and, in the case of donations by standing order or by bank transfer, bank details. This applies particularly where a donation has been gift aided.

To avoid any doubt, we have added a tick-box on the Trust’s giving form so you can provide explicit permission for us to hold this personal data. Please make sure you tick this box when making a donation using the form, which can be downloaded from the Donate page.

Please make permission explicit in any email communication with us, particularly if it relates to a donation by bank transfer.

If making a donation using Virgin Money Giving, their privacy policy applies: see www.virginmoneygiving.com

We always have asked in our newsletters that you should make sure the Alumni Relations Office and the Trust have your up-to-date contact details. This is now more important than ever. Remember to email alumni@ukzn.ac.za and info@ukznuktrust.org to advise of changes.

You have the right to request access to the personal data we hold about you in our records. We will be glad to meet any such request.

Please contact us if you have any queries.

Student’s story of hardship underlines need to back Trust

Trust bursary recipient Sinenhlanhla Khumalo struggles with poverty and with studying in English – but with hard work she has been able to pass her exams. In thanking the Trust for its financial help, she has provided an illuminating account of the difficulties she faces.
She writes: “In the absence of both my parents, my grandmother raised me using social grant, the money she got from selling traditional beer, mats and grass used for roofing. My grandfather did informal jobs but unfortunately died in 2007. My grandmother does everything in her power to make sure that we do not starve.
“I went to the local primary school where the level of education was very poor. They taught everything in Zulu, even English … We did not have computers … I did not have enough opportunity to practise English and as a result it is difficult for me to study at University.”
Sinenhlanhla, who is studying for a Bachelor of Pharmacy degree, pays tribute to her secondary school where, despite a lack of facilities, she became one of the top performing learners.
She says: “I thank them for the person I am today … It did not have a library or a laboratory for our practicals but the teachers were very good at their jobs … They made sure they did all they could with the little that they had.”
Sinenhlanhla continues: “Life hasn’t been easy for me at the University.” Despite the financial help she has received in the current year, she still has fees outstanding from her first year of study, which could hold her back from obtaining her degree. She says: “That affects me negatively, I won’t lie, but I try not to focus on it too much.”
Turning to her studies, Sinenhlanhla says: “I do get unsatisfactory results sometimes but I work hard to make sure that I do not fail in the end.” She chose pharmacy as she is seeking “a dynamic, people-oriented career in health care”. She notes there were no pharmacies in the rural area where she grew up.
She declares: “I am a hard worker and will try all I can to complete my degree in record time.”
Please help Sinenhlanhla and students like her by making a donation to the Trust. Even the smallest contribution can make a difference.

Fresh appeal as fewer students are helped

The number of students the Trust is able to help has fallen again this year – down to 11 now from 14 last year.

It underlines the need for Trust donors and supporters to give as generously as they can. Trustees are launching a fresh appeal for donations this Summer.

Once again the main reason for the decline in numbers is that more of the students awarded Trust bursaries in 2017 qualified for a higher level of funding as a result of achieving higher grades. The Trust sent about the same amount of funding this year as it did in previous years but the money simply did not stretch to cover as many students as before.

Another factor is the exchange rate, which remains much less favourable to the Trust when sending bursary funds to South Africa than in some years past.

The fact that academic success is rewarded provides reassurance to donors that the students concerned are more likely to graduate and go on to have successful careers. But it is regrettable that the Trust can help only a fraction of the students who qualify for help under the criteria of need.

Student funding remains a major issue although government action and new forums appear to have taken some of the heat out of the situation.

Once again, the Trustees call on alumni and Trust supporters to give as best you can so the Trust can continue its work making a real difference to students’ lives and the wider society.

Please make a donation. The easiest way to give is via the Virgin Money Giving website at www.virginmoneygiving.com

Simply search for the University of KwaZulu-Natal UK Trust and follow the simple steps to make your donation, making sure you include a Gift Aid Declaration if you are a UK taxpayer.

Other information about how to give can be found on the Donate page.

Trust supports 14 students in 2016

The number of students the Trust is able to help has fallen to 14 this year, down from 16 last year.

The main reason is that more of the students awarded Trust bursaries in 2016 qualified for a higher level of funding as a result of achieving higher grades. The Trust sent about the same amount of funding this year as it did in 2015 but the money did not stretch to cover as many students.

The fact that academic success is rewarded provides reassurance to donors that the students concerned are more likely to graduate and go on to have successful careers. But it is regrettable that the Trust can help only a fraction of the students who qualify for help under the criteria of need.

As many alumni and Trust supporters will be aware, student funding is a huge issue, particularly in South Africa where there has been a strong campaign to limit or even abolish student fees. A South African government inquiry into the matter is due to report soon but the indications are that the help given by charities such as our Trust will continue to be needed more than ever.

The Trust also faces new challenges following the UK referendum vote to leave the EU. Some analysts forecast a fall in charitable giving. Meanwhile the exchange rate is now much less favourable to the Trust when sending bursary funds to South Africa.

We call on alumni and Trust supporters to give as best you can so the Trust can continue its work making a real difference to students’ lives and the wider society.

Please make a donation. The easiest way to give is via the Virgin Money Giving website at www.virginmoneygiving.com

Simply search for the University of KwaZulu-Natal UK Trust and follow the simple steps to make your donation, making sure you include a Gift Aid Declaration if you are a UK taxpayer.

Other information about how to give can be found on the Donate page.

Gratitude of Trust bursars shines through

UKZN students - file picture

The Trust has received many messages of thanks from the 16 students it has helped through its bursaries and the Margaret Thomas Scholarship this year. Their letters and emails provide a real insight into their lives, the difficulties they face, their hopes and aspirations and their determination to succeed.

See the Trust’s newsletter, Trust News Winter2015-16, for a sample of their stories.

We call on alumni and Trust supporters in the UK to give as best you can so the Trust can continue its work making a real difference to students’ lives and the wider society.

Please make a donation. The easiest way to give is via the Virgin Money Giving website at www.virginmoneygiving.com

Simply search for the University of KwaZulu-Natal UK Trust and follow the simple steps to make your donation, making sure you include a Gift Aid Declaration if you are a UK taxpayer.

Other information about how to give can be found on the Donate page.

Making a difference: 16 students backed

The Trust has marked a real achievement in being able to assist 16 needyPietermaritzburg campus students this year, up from 15 last year.

A favourable exchange rate has helped but thanks are due entirely to Trust donors who have continued to give in support of the charity’s bursaries and the Margaret Thomas Scholarship. The Trustees are particularly grateful for a few generous donations that boosted the funding available for this year.

However, challenges remain. Many UKZN students struggle to find the necessary funds to support themselves, pay their fees and complete their studies. The Trust is able to help only a fraction of them.

Memorial Tower Building, Durban campusWe receive many emails from students desperate for assistance. It is hard for the Trustees to have to refuse them. We make our selections from a shortlist provided by the University’s Student Funding Centre according to our criteria of need.

We call on alumni and Trust supporters in the UK to give as best you can so the Trust can continue its work making a real difference to students’ lives and the wider society.

Please make a donation. The easiest way to give is via the Virgin Money Giving website at www.virginmoneygiving.com

Simply search for the University of KwaZulu-Natal UK Trust and follow the simple steps to make your donation, making sure you include a Gift Aid Declaration if you are a UK taxpayer.

Other information about how to give can be found on the Donate page.

Chilterns ramble benefits Trust

Chilterns walk

The Chilterns walkers near Chequers

The big day out in the Chilterns this Summer was a great success for all who came along.

Warm, sunny weather provided excellent conditions for the event, which included the options of a long walk or a short one, followed by a braai/barbeque.

Several of our Trustees and a handful of UKZN UK Trust supporters were made welcome by the organisers, Steve and Tonia Bowley, whose Thembisa Trust backs community projects in KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere. We were delighted to have had the opportunity to mingle with the Thembisa Trust’s supporters and to have enjoyed Steve and Tonia’s hospitality.

A couple of dozen people took part in the long walk, led by Steve. Starting near Wendover, Bucks, the ramblers stopped at the Boer War memorial on Coombe Hill, with wonderful views across the countryside to the North and West. Passing through shady woods, they emerged near the Prime Minister’s official country residence at Chequers, before going on to lunch in the garden of The Plough at Cadsden (the pub where David Cameron’s daughter once was left behind accidentally by her parents).

Walkers at The Plough

Frank Kantor (Trustee), David Woodward, Andrew Gregory, Kev Harris and Roger Smith (Trust Chair) at The Plough at Cadsden near Chequers

The other group enjoyed a shorter walk past lakes near Steve and Tonia’s home at Tiddington, Oxfordshire. Everyone then gathered in the garden of their home for food and refreshments.

A presentation was made on the work of the Thembisa Trust, providing help to some desperately poor communities. The charity’s patron, the actress Dame Janet Suzman, made a short speech praising its work.

Some money was raised for the Thembisa Trust but the UKZN UK Trust also benefited from donations which came in from well-wishers who sponsored members of our group on the walks.

Tonia and Steve Bowley

Tonia and Steve Bowley

We are very grateful to Steve and Tonia for inviting us to join them on what was a very good, very sociable and enjoyable day. Please see www.thembisatrust.org for more information on their charity.

If you wish to express your backing for those supporters of the UKZN UK Trust who did sponsored walks, please make a donation.

Trust supports more students in 2014

The appeal in the Trust’s previous newsletter for supporters to help boost dwindling funds has had an excellent response. As a result, the number of students the Trust is able to support this year has increased to 15 rather than fallen. This is most heartening.

Every contribution is valued but a huge difference was made by several significant donations from well-wishers who made a special effort. Chief among them were Bronek and Jane Masojada, who wished to help as former students who once attended the University.

The Trustees are grateful to everyone who gave most generously.

The number of students assisted had been expected to fall from 12 last year to 11 or even 10 this year but, thanks to the boost in income, the number goes up to 15.

Nevertheless it has to be said there can be no room for complacency. The need remains very great. Your support is vital if the Trust is to be able to continue its work, making it possible for poor students to complete their studies, which in turn can help the wider community

The Trust receives many appeals from students seeking assistance which it has to refuse because it only considers applications referred by the Student Funding Centre according to the Trust’s criteria based on need. But they bring home the desperate plight of some.

Just one recent example, from an education student, reads: “I have been through so much, having no funding at school while other students do really hurts. I know I’m not the only one but I beg for help if it’s possible for the organization to help me…

“I do well in my studying, I pass all my modules, I am very passionate about my studies, especially the profession I do. I really see myself as successful teacher in 2016 as I am supposed to be finishing my degree next year.

“Every day before I sleep I cry and pray as I don’t know if I’ll be able to get my fees paid and if I’ll finish my degree on time. I walk in and out [of] businesses asking for help since last year, ‘til this day no luck. I would really appreciate it if I got a response from you.”

Praise for student funding administrator

Richard Morrison

The Trustees wish to express publicly their thanks to Richard Morrison of the University’s Student Funding Centre, who is retiring after many years of service.

Richard has played a key role in helping administer the Trust’s bursaries and the Margaret Thomas Scholarship on the Trust’s behalf. The Trust, as a small, independent charity, has been able to depend on the Student Funding Centre’s assistance with matters including the selection of students, the allocation of bursaries, distribution of funds and communication with students.

The Trust is indebted to Richard for his commitment, his understanding of the Trust’s needs and his cooperation.

Trust Chair Roger Smith was in Durban recently and was able to meet Richard and convey to him the Trustees’ thanks and best wishes.

Roger received an update from Richard on the challenges faced by the administration in trying to help needy students. There is a significant shortfall in funds for assistance, while many students struggle to pay their fees.

Durban meeting: Roger Smith, Finn Christenson and Desiree Govender

Roger also met Alumni Relations Manager Finn Christenson and Assistant Database Officer Desiree Govender and had a useful discussion about the use of e-mail and social media for contacting and communicating with alumni.

In addition, Roger saw UKZN Foundation Trust Executive Director Bridget McBean for an exchange of ideas and information.

The Trustees are grateful to University staff for their continuing help and support.