Prof Anesh Singh - Funding Access To High Quality Education
Prof Anesh Singh - Funding Access To High Quality Education

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Prof Anesh Singh - Funding Access To High Quality Education


The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Foundation is the official fundraising arm of the institution. The Foundation is headed up by the executive director Professor AneshManiraj Singh who was appointed in 2016.

"The primary function of the Foundation is to provide an efficient and effective fund raising service that benefits all our stakeholders, including students, academics, society and the various strategic projects of UKZN," said Prof Singh.

Of importance is that the Foundation strives to cultivate a strong relationship with donors, which typically consists of trusts, corporates, high net worth individuals, alumni and the general public. This relationship is well coordinated through regular correspondence via the in-house newsletter as well as through the UKZN Foundation website. In an annual survey on higher education, it was reported that UKZN excelled at community engagement. Said Prof Singh, "Maintaining these relationships is essential to driving the UKZN Foundation's fundraising programme."

The Foundation provides a one stop shop for donors as well as undertakes all donor administration functions, including providing tax certificates and paperwork for Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) spend.  As a nonprofit organisation, the UKZN Foundation is a section 18A entity so donations are tax deductible. In addition, spending may be claimed for B-BBEE scorecard points under skills development, and social economic development code series. 

While the UKZN Foundation is generally well supported, the current economic climate has resulted in many budgets being cut, which has reduced the corporate social investment (CSI) spend. "Of importance is that there is more to giving than just meeting B-BBEE scorecard goals. There are also intangible rewards. This is apparent in the 'feel good' that results from giving. Giving is good not only for yourself but also for society. Potential and current donors are encouraged to give the gift of knowledge," said Prof Singh.

Often the need for investment in higher education is overlooked when CSI spend is allocated. However, in order for the South African economy to grow, as well as to address the limitations for industry sectors where scare skills exist, higher education must continue to be priority. Educating our citizens is not only vital for our country's economic growth but also empowers many of our youth to move beyond the limitations of poverty.  Prof Singh commented, "While 'fees must fall' raised many legitimate concerns, we need to continue to proactively look for funding.  The missing middle, who come from families with income levels above the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) threshold, but who cannot afford post-school education are of particular concern. There are many students, who without extra help will struggle to reach their full potential and need our help."

Resolving this crisis situation needs to be perceived as the joint responsibility of government and the business sector. For the business sector an investment in students' participation in higher education should be regarded as a win-win situation. By investing in university education, they are also investing in the culture and skills of their future work force and creating a pipeline of new employees. In addition, no teaching can take place in a vacuum and the relationship between knowledge and practice is undisputed. Students require work experience, which may be acquired through internships or holiday employment, which then lead to permanent employment.

Excellence in university education standards also need to be maintained continually. Students require access to the latest equipment and best facilities in order to remain up to date with the advances in the various fields of academia as well as to research solutions to the many new challenges facing society.  All university stakeholders have no difficulty in recognising that educated graduates are critical to society's future.

Prof Singh concluded, "It does not matter the size of the donation âˆ' big or small. UKZN needs the support of the corporate community to engage more effectively and to invest in the city, the province of KZN and ultimately the country."

Prof Anesh Singh - Funding Access To High Quality Education

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