A PARTNERSHIP between local philanthropic organisation NGO, Inyathelo and the US-based Kresge Foundation aims to make R22 million available to universities over the next five years.
Inyathelo executive director Shelagh Gastrow said: "This latest Kresge initiative follows the success of a five-year partnership with Inyathelo that helped five high-profile South African institutions -the University of the Witswatersrand, the University of Pretoria, the University ofthe Western Cape, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and the Children's Hospital Trust."
Gastrow said universities could no longer rely on student fees and government subsidies to maintain their excellence: "Raising the money required to produce cutting-edge research, to attract the best faculty (and) to offer scholarships to talented students is a business and increasing numbers of universities have recognised the need to establish business units that focus on 'institutional advancement:"
UCT, under the leadership of Dr Mamphela Ramphele, was the first to introduce this concept in South Africa. A major legacy of (Ramphele's) tenure is the magnificent new library and student centre built with private donor funding in 1999 Since then the infrastructural impact of this thinking is evident at other institutions such as the state-of-the-art Life Sciences Building at the University of the Western Cape," Gastrow said.
The four universities that will be funded over the next five years are the Durban University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Johannesburg and the University of the Free State. Gastrow said that in addition to the funding, Kresge will also provide programmes and support aimed at enhancing student access and improving graduation rates.
Bill Moses, who directs Kresge's education programme, said that stronger advancement skills were critical to the success of the universities as well as ultimately "getting more South African students into universities and completing degrees. Advancement is not just about raising funds. It is the practice of building, maintaining and improving support, skills and other resources to ensure the sustainability of an institution'.
Gastrow said part of their initiative was to grow local philanthropy "which is very important not just because international funding has shifted but because as South Africans we need to be investing in ourselves and our future".