THE University of Free State (UFS) will be among the four South African universities that will participate in a multimillion-rand programme to boost private fund raising.
About R5.6m has been set aside for UFS, alone. The programme will be run by a US-based Kresge Foundation in a joint initiative with Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, to support the long-term financial sustainability of higher education institutions in South Africa for four years.
Others are the University of Johannesburg (UJ), Tshwane University of Technology and Durban University of Technology.
Director of Kresge's education programme, Bill Moses, said declining government support meant that South African universities needed to tap into diversified philanthropic and private funding if they wanted to enhance their institutions' ability to serve students better.
"Stronger advancement skills are critical to their success and ultimately to getting more South African students into universities and completing degrees in various fields.
"Advancement is not just about raising funds. It's the practice of building, maintaining and improving support, skills and other resources to ensure the sustainability of an institution," Moses said.
The grant to the UFS will expand the South African Survey of Student Engagement, as well as funding various higher learning institutions to support conferences in January, which will highlight opportunities to promote access and success at South African universities.
Moses said he was adamant that the initiative would go along way to help young and dedicated South Africans get access to education.
"Access to higher education in South Africa has improved dramatically since the end of apartheid. A doubling of enrolment since 1994 has, however, contributed to serious challenges, including under-prepared students and disappointing graduation rates.
"We are confident that our programme will help address some of these obstacles to success," he added.