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Direct funding advances students in financial services sector

- Wits University

FirstRand Bank awards bursaries to students in the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics.

Three students in the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics have been awarded bursaries from FirstRand Bank Limited (FirstRand) to pursue a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in the field of Mathematical Science, with a specialisation in Computational Finance.  

This is a course structure aimed to replace the successful Advanced Mathematics of Finance program which originally targeted mathematical finance competencies.  This is both a response to the rapidly changing skills demands that financial services companies have, one that combines mathematical finance with computational and technology based competencies, as well as the complex funding realities of many students.

The Computational Finance program stream within the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the University of the Witwatersrand is designed for students who have a strong mathematical undergraduate degree and an interest in financial markets. It is a program that combines core competencies in applied mathematics, computational and mathematical finance but with the flexibility of adding courses ranging from computer science (such as machine learning) or mathematics (such as measure theory).

Bursary recipients Elvis Seshoene, Lethabo Felicia Makumula, and Kelisha Moodley will benefit from First Rand’s “direct funding” initiative.

This is a funding strategy that targets potential beneficiary students after they have been accepted into prestigious Applied Mathematics and Computer Science programme streams. Their selection as beneficiaries is based entirely on competitive merit demonstrated during the admission process to these programmes, which provide scarce skills to the financial services sector.

“This is really just a start to this type of direct student funding – an approach that is distinct from traditional bursary or programme-orientated funding. Direct funding tailors industry-university partnerships around the students and the industry partner’s needs,” says Tim Gebbie, Professor in the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics.

He and Professor Raseelo Moitsheki, the current Head of School, added that the School was pleased FirstRand supported its students in such a direct manner and see this as part of a response to some of the realities brought forward during the #FeesMustFall protests.

“We are delighted that FirstRand, in particular, Mr Mongezi Mngadi and his team, who took such an active interest in supporting postgraduate students as directly as possible within the Science Faculty, and in particular within the School of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. We are thankful that the leadership within the Science Faculty and School has provided an environment that can be flexible enough to facilitate this type of adaptive yet student-orientated approach to funding. “