Indian firm Tata hands out academic scholarships to 21 post-graduate students at UKZN

2013-06-20 00:00

A WORLD of opportunity opened up for 21 postgraduate students of the University of KwaZulu-Natal when they were handed scholarships to further their academic careers.

The generous gestures, worth more than R600 000, came courtesy of Indian multinational company Tata.

Since 2006, Tata has helped 200 of the most promising post-graduate students in South Africa with funding. Managing director of its Africa interests, Raman Dhawan, said this equated to about R10 million.

“We want to make these scholarships more prestigious in a manner that people really want these scholarships,” he said at a formal ceremony at the Howard College campus yesterday.

Most of the beneficiaries were on hand to receive their certificates, each piece of paper granting them another year to pursue excellence in education.

The scholarships come unconditionally, although Dhawan, who personally established the beneficiary programme seven years ago and is now retiring from the company, had one stipulation.

“Although I said there is no obligation, I still want something from you and that is to contribute back to the community.”

Students studying for honours degrees will get R25 000, those pursuing Masters receive R30 000 and doctoral candidates get R50 000.

Recipient Zama Msibi (29) was clear that without the money she would have no chance of studying this year. Msibi, a medical sciences student studying for her Masters in microbiology, said the cost of tuition and residence fees would have proved prohibitive.

“I was very relieved, it was heaven sent because I was not sure how I was going to pay my fees.”

Msibi grew up in a township near Mariannhill and in 2004 became her parents’ only child when her brother died. Last year, during a trip to Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, she was offered the chance by the U.S. institution to complete her doctorate there once her Masters has been achieved. Msibi said that opportunity was still alive, thanks in no small part to her scholarship, the second she has received from Tata.

In a heartfelt address to the recipients, UKZN vice chancellor Professor Malegapuru Makgoba praised them for standing out among their peers.

“One of the things about the Tata scholarships is the reward and recognition of bright students,” adding they would become the “stars of society”.

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