|A bursary is a grant of money that is awarded to a student to assist with the costs of tertiary education. Unlike a loan, a bursary normally does not have to be repaid. However there are usually conditions attached to bursaries.Although the terms “bursary” and “scholarship” are often used interchangeably, a scholarship is usually awarded for outstanding academic achievement. A bursary, on the other hand, may be awarded on the basis of academic performance, financial neediness and/or a wide range of other criteria.Bursaries are available, but competition for bursaries is tough!
Bursaries also vary in what they cover. Some bursaries are very comprehensive and cover tuition fees, accommodation costs, books and travel costs, but most bursaries offer a relatively small financial contribution towards your studies.
The most practical way of looking at bursaries is to consider them a potential source of financial assistance. Remember, most students pay for their studies through a combination of student loans, bursaries and assistance from family members or friends. It is very unusual to have your studies totally funded by a bursary or scholarship.
Bursaries differ considerably in their selection criteria, but most donors will require you to have sound results from exams (such as Matric) and other qualities such as evidence of leadership or sporting ability. Financial neediness is another very common criterion.
In your search for financial assistance, it is useful to know that there are two types of bursaries available to students at South African universities:
- Bursaries that are awarded by a university, using funds provided by donors or trustees; and
- Bursaries that are awarded by external organisations
There are different application procedures for these two groups of bursaries.
Bursaries awarded by African Academy
African Academy receives funds from a number of donors or sponsors who want to contribute to the education of deserving students. Many donors will stipulate the criteria and requirements that must be used by the Academy in awarding a bursary. The criteria are many and varied, but typically include academic merit, financial neediness and a specific field of study, such as Draughting.
Some bursaries are allocated on the basis of very specific criteria such as the age, race, gender, language group, religion or even, in some cases, the town of origin of the student.
Bursaries awarded by organisations
A number of companies, government departments and organisations offer bursaries to academically promising students.
Some of the most comprehensive bursaries are contract bursaries which require you to work for the company that sponsored your studies for at least the same number of years that it took to get your qualification. Some contract bursaries also provide students with paid vacation work, graduate training and other attractive career-building schemes.
Contract bursaries are very often prestigious awards and competition for the bursaries is intense. You would need to have an exceptional academic record or outstanding leadership abilities to qualify for one of these bursaries.