By Tanatswa Chivhere, fourth-year BJourn student
The Rhodes University Accounting Department hosted a welcome lunch to celebrate the launch of the 2020 Thuthuka and the Finance and Accounting Services Sector Education and Training Authority (FASSET) Bursary programmes. The launch took place at the Senior Common room and among the attendees was the Registrar, Dr Adele Moodly and a representative from Thuthuka, Ms Olwethu Ketse.
The Thuthuka and FASSET Bursary Funds are aimed at academically-strong students, excelling in Mathematics who wish to pursue a career in Chartered Accountancy (CA) in South Africa. This is the fifth year that the Rhodes University Department of Accounting has run the bursary programmes for dedicated students. According to the Head of Department, Professor Jackie Arendse, the Department’s primary objective is to create access, through the provision of funding, for African students studying towards CA(SA) and similar accountancy professional designations. “We believe that this is a critical aspect of bringing about the transformation of our profession,” she said.
Since its inception, the programmes have funded 333 students at a value of more than R45 million. For the current year, there are 49 students registered with bursaries to the value of R8 million. The recipients have their fees paid, receive funds for accommodation, textbooks and a monthly stipend. The programmes also provides mentorship and soft skills to the bursary students. The investment has yielded positive results as more than 40 students on the bursary programmes completed their BCom degrees. In addition, 46 have passed the PDipAcc and 18 graduates have gone on to pass the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants’ (SAICA) Initial Test of Competence. These students are well on their way to complete the exams necessary to qualify as Chartered Accountants (SA).
Ms Ketse said she was touched when she saw the faces behind the numbers and was reminded of the splendid work the bursary is doing. She encouraged students to be aware of the current issues pertaining to the economy. She said when students were not aware of what was happening, their tests were negatively impacted. The department’s programmes provided good opportunities for students to learn about the business environment.
The welcome lunch also gave students the opportunity to tell their stories about how the bursaries have changed their lives. William Phala, a PDipAcc student, took the opportunity to encourage the first-year students. He told them not to pay attention to words of discouragement but to focus on having CA(SA) after their names. “The bursary programmes have done their part by providing academic support and it is up to the students to reach for the stars,” he said. Another PDipAcc student, Zintle Nonqayi, spoke of how the soft skills programme run as part of the bursary programme in 2019, helped her to cope with the challenges of a difficult academic programme.
Professor Arendse thanked FASSET and Thuthuka for entrusting the Department with managing the bursaries. She said she hopes that the programmes will continue to grow and that the recipients go on to graduate and achieve their professional goals. She urged the students to invest back into other future students once they establish their careers.