Thirteen students have 50,000 reasons to smile after they each received a prestigious scholarship from Tata Africa.
The scholarships were awarded to 40 students at different higher education institutions across the country, including Wits, each valued at R50 000. Tata Africa Scholarship Awards are awarded for postgraduate studies at the Masters or Doctoral level, in the computer/information sciences, engineering, mathematics/statistics, financial management, life sciences and natural sciences fields.
A total of 1988 applications were received, and a strict adjudication process followed with the support of the Department of Science and Technology and a number of professors from various academic institutions in South Africa. Consideration was given to students who are financially challenged and who have a proven academic track record during their graduate years.
This was the fourth year in which Tata extended its meaningful scholarship support to Wits students. These scholarships will be used to cover the students? tuition fees, books, accommodation and living costs.
The awards function, held on Thursday, 4 March 2010 at Wits, was attended by representatives from Wits, the Department of Science and Technology, Tata Africa, the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the University of the Free State.
Mr Raman Dhawan, Managing Director of Tata Africa, said that the Tata Africa Scholarships reached a major milestone this year and this bears witness to the commitment and sustainability of the programme.
?We must be doing something right ? in 2006 we started by awarding Tata Scholarships to ten students at Wits, to the value of R500,000. Now, we have just awarded 40 scholarships to the value of R2,5 million.?
?We are very proud to be contributing to knowledge expansion. Investing in the education of the youth of South Africa is a key focus for Tata Africa. Each scholar must remember that it is imperative for them to one day, plough back into their own communities. This value of Trusteeship and giving back to the community have been and continue to be the building blocks of Tata since its beginning 140 years ago,? added Dhawan.
Prof. Loyiso Nongxa, Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, expressed his gratitude towards Tata Africa.
?Partnerships is an area that needs special attention in a University. Tata has invested in higher education in a big way. When we started this partnership ? the pilot was at Wits in 2006 ? I remember saying that I wish this scholarship becomes and will be viewed as one of the prestigious scholarships in South Africa. It has not only done that, but evolved into the scholarship that supports outstanding scholars in the country and growing intellectual capital. To have this huge increase in scholarships since 2006 is an outstanding vote of confidence in the intellectual power of our institutions,? said Nongxa.
The University of KwaZulu-Natal received five scholarships and the Vice-Chancellor Prof. Malegapuru Makgoba had inspiring words for the recipients.
?You, our scholars, have met the criteria that classify you all as outstanding young people. Tata has put their confidence in you, and you will become part of the new timber and embark on this journey because of your knowledge. If you are shaping ideas, fight for it and grow your knowledge, it might make a huge difference one day,? said Makgoba.
Prof. Driekie Hay from the University of the Free State, a first time recipient of Tata scholarships, relayed her excitement at what the award could mean for the students and the institution.
?I hope the students will see this as the beginning of an academic future that has no boundaries and that they will be passionate about being academics,? said Hay.
This sentiment was shared by Prof. Anton Str?rom the University of Pretoria. ?I would like to inspire students to keep on thinking, enquiring and asking the ?stupid? questions. The Tata scholarships add a greater quality to the academics we produce.?
The 13 scholarships awarded to Wits students mark a total of just over R2.6 million awarded to 44 Wits recipients by Tata since 2006.