Four South African universities have been selected to take part in a multi-million rand programme to bolster their private fundraising and Advancement efforts. The US-based Kresge Foundation will make $USD2.5 million available to Durban University of Technology (DUT), Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the University of the Free State (UFS) over the next five years as part of a joint initiative with Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement to support the long-term financial sustainability of higher education institutions in South Africa. Kresge will also provide programmes and support aimed at enhancing student access and improving graduation rates.
Bill Moses, who directs Kresge’s education programme, says declining government support means South African university officials need to tap into diversified philanthropic and private funding if they want to enhance their institutions’ ability to serve students better. “Stronger Advancement skills are critical to their success and ultimately to getting more South African students into universities and completing degrees. Advancement is not just about raising funds. It is the practice of building, maintaining and improving support, skills and other resources to ensure the sustainability of an institution,” explains Moses.
This latest Kresge initiative follows the success of a five-year partnership with Inyathelo that helped five high profile South African institutions - the University of the Witswatersrand (Wits); the University of Pretoria (UP); the University of the Western Cape (UWC); the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the Children’s Hospital Trust - increase their private fundraising revenue threefold. The four universities will receive additional funding over the next five years and will serve as mentors to the new group of institutions.
Inyathelo’s Executive Director Shelagh Gastrow says since the Kresge Foundation-Inyathelo partnership was initiated in 2005, most South African universities have begun to form Advancement operations. “As a South African who believes university-level education is crucial to the health of our economy and our democracy, I’m very encouraged. Fundraising is becoming highly competitive, with an increasing number of organisations chasing ever-shrinking traditional sources of income. Universities need to actively to seek new sources of support through effective Advancement practice if they want to survive and thrive, particularly during this time when world economies are performing poorly. There are many opportunities if Advancement is approached strategically and in a business-minded manner,” says Gastrow.
In April last year, Kresge announced a new commitment to South African higher education that builds on its efforts in the United States to improve access and help students succeed academically. Their ‘Promoting access and success at South African universities’ programme will seek to strengthen pathways to and through universities, especially for students who are often unprepared for university study. Moses says enhancing the ability of universities in South Africa to graduate the next generation of knowledge workers will make it possible for the country to compete more effectively in the global economy. “Access to higher education in South Africa has improved dramatically since the end of Apartheid. But a doubling of enrollment since 1994 has contributed to serious challenges including under-prepared students and disappointing graduation rates. We are confident that our programme will help address some of these obstacles to success,” says Moses.
Kresge has already funded several efforts that support its interest in strengthening pathways to and through universities this year, including a grant to the University of the Free State to expand the South African Survey of Student Engagement as well as funding to the University of Pretoria to support a conference in January, which will highlight opportunities to promote access and success at South African universities.
The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organisations working in its seven program areas: Arts and Culture, Community Development, Detroit, Education, the Environment, Health, and Human Services. In 2011, the Board of Trustees approved 356 awards totaling $170 million; $140 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year.