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Colloquium probes solutions for student hunger
2015-08-03

While higher education is deemed necessary for future financial security, high tuition and accommodation fees, as well as increasing food prices, are forcing students to drop out of university.

Dr Louise van den Berg, Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the University of the Free State (UFS), says university campuses are not often associated with food insecurity, but, due to the increase in first-generation students and students of low-income households receiving tertiary education, student hunger at some of the country’s prominent campuses needs urgent intervention.

On 14 August 2015, the University of the Free State (UFS) will host the first higher education colloquium in the country, on food insecurity on university campuses.  Best practices will be shared, exploring the available research on student food insecurity at institutions of higher education. Programme of the colloquium.

A study by the UFS Department of Nutrition and Dietetics found that as many as 60% of students on our campuses were food-insecure, and experienced hunger. This study was the first of its kind in South Africa, and led to the No Student Hungry Bursary Programme (NSH) at the UFS. The level of severe food insecurity reported was much higher than that reported in Australia, New York, and Hawaii by the only other three studies that have been done.

“The UFS is not the only campus struggling with food insecurity,” say Dr Van den Bergh.

“The general misconception is that a student, having money for studies, should have money for food. Funders need to reassess bursaries, keeping issues such as food insecurity in mind, and not just focusing on tuition.”

Bursaries, especially government funding, became easily available to bridge the inequality gap in our country.

“Although bursaries pay for tuition, many students have no resources for food. Universities currently have a 50% drop-out rate currently, with many students dropping out due to poverty.”

 

What is NSH?

 

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