Tertiary education bursaries have the potential to assist South Africa in growing its economy, tackling unemployment and addressing employment equity. From a personal standpoint, they also offer the tangible opportunity to transform lives. Bursaries not only transform the lives of the individuals awarded bursaries but also improve those of their families and local communities.

The story of tertiary bursary funding given to students that drop-out has left many companies feeling despondent and reluctant to sponsor bursaries. Along with this, B-BBEE bursary sponsorship has turned something so life-changing into a somewhat grudge purchase

My hope with this article is to simply illustrate the positive lifetime financial impact a bursary can provide when given to deserving candidates studying highly employable qualifications at quality institutions.

SOURCE Matric*    Higher Certificate*    Bachelor’s Degree*   
Present value of lifetime earnings*    R3,1m R6,5m R20,7m
PV lifetime earning differential R3,4m R17,6m
Earning comparison Base x2.1 x6.7
Return on companies investment  2,266% 3,911%


So what does this graph actually show:

  • Impact of one year of completed tertiary education (higher-certificate) can cause:
    • Lifetime earnings to more than double. 
    • A 2,266% return on the money sponsored by the company.
  • Impact of 3 years of completed tertiary education (Bachelor’s Degree) can cause:
    • Lifetime earning to increase more than 6.7 times.
    • A 3,911% return on the money sponsored by a company.


This is by no means an exact science, and I am cognisant of the myriad of assumptions and external factors that can impact this calculation. These include, but are not limited to, inflation rates, growth rates, quality of education, degree studied, and network of individuals, home lifestyle, gender and personal factors.

As I have shown, the power that tertiary education can have on the lives of students is massive. For the narrative around bursaries to change, both educational institutions and companies have a critical role to play. Educational institutions must develop students with skills that are relevant for the future and companies must make sure that they sponsor deserving candidates studying highly employable qualifications at quality institutions.

As a Private Higher Education Institution, we work with industry leaders to ensure that we produce future-proofed graduates who are able to hit the ground running.  We aim to partner with companies that share our appreciation for the impact that education can have on the lives of young South Africans. 

If you’re interested in working with us to develop the future leaders of South Africa, click the button below to find out more about our list of pre-screened bursary candidates and bursary sponsorship process.

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Author: Steven Fine, Business Relationship Manager

If you don’t find Steven reading on the couch, on the golf course, exercising or binge-watching a series, he’s probably working on finding new clients for the Red & Yellow Corporate Training team. He describes himself as a smoothie – packed with passion, energy, creativity and a bit of mischief.