Young director to lead WSU in meeting funding shortfall

Silvanus Welcome, Walter Sisulu University’s youngest director.
Silvanus Welcome, Walter Sisulu University’s youngest director.
Image: Supplied

The task of mitigating student debt and transforming Walter Sisulu University (WSU) into a legacy institution rests on the shoulder of the university’s youngest director ever, Silvanus Welcome.

Welcome, 29, was appointed as the university’s institutional advancement director last November and also heads the alumni relations unit.

In an interview, Welcome said his main objective in his new role was to enhance the university’s third stream income to support unfunded students whose parents cannot afford to pay fees, and funding for the expansion of the university’s campuses.

“There are three streams of income: first there is government funding, second is student fees and the third stream is the shortfall, and that is where I come in.

“Our focus as institutional advancement at WSU is to source funding for student bursaries by putting in place strategies that will curb the student loan burden through donor funding, and we’re going to achieve this by engaging our alumni and corporate,” said Welcome.

Originally from Port Alfred, Welcome said he could relate to the daunting feeling of not knowing where the money was going to come from to further your studies.

“I had student debt once. I remember I was elected to be the SRC [student representative council] vice-president. Meanwhile I did not even know whether I was coming back the following year to fill my SRC position because I had no money to register.

“After speaking to the then vice-chancellor [Saleem Badat] I was able to secure a council loan to further my studies,” he said.

Welcome holds a bachelor of social science (Law) degree from Rhodes University, where he also completed postgraduate studies before moving to North West University, where he completed his masters of business administration (MBA).

After completing his studies at Rhodes, Welcome worked as a donor research administrator intern and thereafter worked as an advancement specialist at North West University.

Welcome said instead of asking for funding, the university intends to engage their alumni’s to get them involved and keep them informed about the university’s vision and strategies.

“It is not a secret that the university, just like any university, has a number of challenges like student protests, campus violence and student funding.

“But to speak for us I think the good thing is even our potential investors are aware of these challenges, so when we do engage them we intend to be brutally honest and outline our challenges and tell them what our strategy is to deal with those challenges and how they could assist,” said Welcome.

He said the university was currently in the process of launching a bursary fund where all university stakeholders can invest with their time, care and money.