It can be tricky to find funding. We hear you. Bursaries and scholarships are a great way to finance your tertiary education. There are many available out there, usually from big corporates who are looking to catch the best people at a young age.
WARNING: Lengthy applications and multiple screening rounds for both bursaries and scholarships!
Bursaries are more common than scholarships, and are exclusively offered by firms who want you to work for them for a specified period of time after graduation (usually 2 years). The details of the packages differ from bursary to bursary, but generally they will pay for your fees, a portion of your accommodation (or all of it if you stay in a registered university/college residence), a budget for textbooks and a small monthly stipend for food, etc.
Scholarships are less common but more desirable than bursaries. They are usually offered by social institutions and organisations which are simply investing in the country’s future. There are usually no strings attached in terms of working for them after graduation, and they simply give you money to get through your studies. To get onto a good scholarship programme you have to really deserve it- they don’t throw these around. Packages differ in a similar way to bursaries (see above).
7 Need-to-knows: Advice from EduConnect
- Good grades get you bursaries and scholarships, full stop. But not just good grades… Great grades. And even with great grades, your chances are merely increased- possibly to 50/50. In other words, it is very tough to get bursaries and scholarships in SA.
- Race plays a big role, but it is not the be-all and end-all. Just because an application form says that preference is given to people of a particular colour does not necessarily mean they will not give it to someone not of that colour. Apply anyway.
- This is a numbers game- you get 1 interview for every 10 applications, if you are lucky. Take a full Saturday (yes, applications take a while) and write up a well-worded CV, a great Cover Letter and answer every required field in the application properly. Do this for a dozen applications or more.
- It’s worth it if you get it. Students with a bursary or scholarship have a much easier time at university than those without, even if money is not an issue. You will always have money for the essentials (food, petrol, etc.), and you always know that your fees and textbooks are covered. And you immediately have a better mindset- someone out there thinks you are so good that they are paying for you to study! This puts you in that top percentile.
- There are a multitude of benefits that come with many bursaries and scholarships that are not even shown on the face of an application. Often you get travel allowances, exorbitant textbook budgets and invitations to executive functions. You will usually only be able to figure out exactly what you’re in for after you’ve got in.
- Bursaries and scholarships do not all work ‘by the book’. In other words, you are not bound by the standard process of applying for marketed bursaries/scholarships. You will have as much success, if not more, if you were to email the right people at companies which you know will be interested in getting a talented graduate like yourself in a few years. So while you should apply for existing programmes, do some ‘off-market shopping’- pop a few mails to some relevant companies. You can contact us if you’d like a few pointers here.
- You’re dealing with people, not monsters. Just because someone wears a suit doesn’t mean they don’t know what it’s like to be in an applicant’s position. If you have a question, ask! If you want to know anything at all, pick up the phone and ask for the relevant person. Here’s something no one seems to understand: They want you to apply, they want you to reprimand them for being slow, and they want you to be a pest. They need you just as much as you need them.
Take the plunge and start applying. If you think you’re not good enough or didn’t achieve the best marks, they might think you’re exactly what they need. The worst that can happen is that they say no or you get a half-bursary. And then you’re in the same position as you were before you applied. Don’t do something you’ll regret. You’ll never regret getting a bursary or scholarship!