Wits University receives R100-million from anonymous donor

30 October 2014

The University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg will most probably channel part of the R100-million donation towards the Wits Arts museum, with the rest going to advance research at the institution.

The donation is from a long-time supporter of Wits University who has asked to remain anonymous. Chances are that R10-million of the donation will go towards the Wits Arts Museum and the rest will go towards research and/or teaching, the university said in a statement.

Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib said the money will go a long way towards advancing higher education in general.

“It is a great honour for Wits to receive funding of this magnitude from a South African who has seen it fit to invest in Wits, and in higher education, a sector that develops the future leaders of our country,’ said Habib.

However, Habib said the university is still working out the “specific details’ of how the funds will be expended, but the institution is “always in need of funds to attract and retain talented academics and students, and to support the research and teaching activities’.

Habib said it is rare that universities in South Africa receive funding of this magnitude from sole philanthropists, as the majority of external funding is sourced from corporates and state funding agencies locally, and international trusts and foundations.

“A distinguishing feature of this donation is also that it is unrestricted. The university leadership has been granted the autonomy to deploy this donation as it deems best to enhance teaching and research at Wits. Such donations are rare and is to be particularly applauded,’ said Habib, adding that such donations, however, are important for Wits to remain a leader in research and service excellence.

The Wits Group has an annual turnover of about R4-billion and to remain globally competitive, the institution is increasingly looking towards third stream income. Most universities in South Africa obtain their funding via three income streams – state subsidy, student fees and third stream income.

On its website , Wits claims it is the recipient of the highest levels of external financial support of all universities in South Africa, from donors and partners all over the world.

“I believe that Wits is an active social leader that seeks to advance the public good. An investment in Wits and in our universities today is an investment in our youth, and the future of our country,’ said Habib.

SAinfo reporter