The London Metal Exchange (LME), a non-ferrous metals market which offers futures and options contracts for many leading metals, has made significant annual donations from 2009 to the Wits School of Mining Engineering to assist disadvantaged students. As a direct result, the first year student throughput at the School has increased significantly.
Professor Fred Cawood, Head of the Wits School of Mining Engineering, aims to increase the percentage of sponsored students in the school to provide opportunities for those drawn from a disadvantaged socio-economic background and the donation from the LME fulfilled this exact purpose.
“Our objective is to identify students who are in need, such as those who come from poor families and who cannot afford to study; as well as deserving students, such as those who have a realistic chance of success if their financial problems are resolved. These problems vary from student to student and we do our best to address the causes leading to under-performance rather than merely treating the symptoms,” says Cawood.
A group of deserving students were identified in 2010 as suitable beneficiaries and 11 of the 12 students who benefitted from the initiative are still in the system. One student left Wits to further his studies elsewhere. Seven cleared all their second year subjects in 2011 and four students will be on cross curriculum – taking a combination of second and third year subjects.
In 2011 another 14 students benefitted from the LME initiative, with 11 receiving clear passes and three students returning on a cross curriculum programme - a 78% success rate with none of them having dropped out.
The outstanding performance of these students is a clear testimony as to what can be achieved in partnerships with sponsors like LME, who are passionate about providing education and dedicated to producing quality mining engineering graduates.
“The donation from the LME has made a significant difference in the lives of these students by affording them the opportunity to pursue the career of their dreams,” says Cawood.
The Wits School of Chemistry also received a donation of R600 000 from Dow Chemicals to help fund chemistry students’ fees. The donation will be used to fund the enrolment of new students and provide access to students who could otherwise be unable to afford university fees.