WITS University, in partnership with health, hygiene and nutrition brand Reckitt, are launching a three-year talent and transformation initiative, which aims to provide greater college access for black pupils.
Black pupils are often excluded from receiving a university education due to funding criteria. The Reckitt partnership with Wits aims to identify high potential young black leaders, for development into senior management positions across the continent.
Russell Taylor, regional director for Africa from Reckitt Healthcare said: “This partnership is extremely important to us. In order to be a good business, we need to be a positive force in society, as well and play a role in the transformation of local communities. We look forward to partnering with Wits in the years to come, and to contributing towards the development of the next generation of leaders for the continent.”
Each year Reckitt will provide full funding, for both living and study costs, for seven disadvantaged black students to complete their three-year Bachelors of Commerce degrees. The identified students will also be equipped with mentors and will enter a graduate programme at the end of the course.
Successful candidates will have their full costs of accommodation, meals, textbooks, stipends, a laptop, as well as student support – including tutorials, one-on-one consultations, toolkits for success, work readiness preparation, food, clothing, and psycho-social support.
Reckitt’s funding will also support a series of collaborations with WBS, including MBA curriculum enhancement, the addition of a business challenge competition for students, and support for the WBS Careers & Coaching Area.
In the past, Wits University has made significant progress towards the financial sustainability of students, from families earning less than R350 000 per annum. This group is often called the “missing middle”, as they fall outside of the funding threshold.
The university said, as a result, there are currently about 250 000 young black South Africans who have gained admission to university, but lack funds to progress – coming from families whose income is above the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) threshold for state funding to poor families.