Standard Bank Bursaries

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South Africa’s biggest bank offers undergraduate and postgraduate bursaries for Commerce, Science, Engineering, IT and Mathematics students who have already completed 1st year.

Standard Bank is South Africa’s biggest bank in terms of customer numbers, serving an estimated 11.6 million people. The bank has come a long way from its founding days when it was established as the Standard Bank of British South Africa in 1862. The bank’s operations were based primarily in Port Elizabeth to serve its mainly Cape Colony customers and institutions that had business dealings with the growing enterprises based in the region. Standard Bank retained its headquarters in the Eastern Cape town for a further 23 years before moving to the iconic Adderley Street site in Cape Town.

The discovery of diamonds in the Vaal prompted Standard Bank to open a branch in in the area to serve the prospectors who rushed to the region, making it the first bank to do so. In 1883, the “British” part of the bank’s name was dropped in a bid to allow it to trade legally in the Transvaal, which fell outside of the jurisdiction of British rule. The discovery of gold served as motivation for the bank to trade in the Transvaal, even though its operations were small and not very profitable. The gamble that the bank had taken in remaining in the Transvaal paid off as it became the first bank to open a branch in the new mining town – Johannesburg – that sprung up around the site of what was to become the richest gold reef in the world.

Toward the 1890s and early 1900s. Standard Bank expanded into colonial southern Africa, starting operations in quick succession in the former Southern and Northern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe and Zambia, respectively); Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique); Bechuanaland (Botswana); British East Africa (Kenya); and Belgian Congo (DRC), among others. With the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, many of Standard Bank’s exclusively male staff joined the armed forces, and the bank had to break long-standing tradition and hire its first female employee in 1915.

After withstanding the Depression, the market entry of a major competitor (Barclays), and another World War, Standard Bank moved its headquarters to Johannesburg in 1959. In the 1960s, the bank changed the status quo once again by employing Black employees in clerical jobs on a permanent basis. Standard Bank also became the first South African bank to offer credit cards when they acquired a controlling interest in Diners Club of South Africa.

The disinvestment by British-based Standard Chartered Bank from its African businesses in the 1980s paved the way for Standard Bank to re-establish itself and expand further on the continent. Today, Standard Bank has over 1,200 branches and around 8,800 ATMs in the 20 African countries where it has operations. In 2008, a 20% stake in Standard Bank was acquired by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Limited (ICBC), the world’s largest bank in terms of market capitalisation. Foreign ownership in Standard Bank currently stands at 40%; however it remains majority South African-owned. The bank holds total assets valued at $128 billion and employs more than 54,000 people.

Standard Bank Bursary Program Overview

Standard Bank makes a significant contribution towards education initiatives throughout the African continent. In South Africa, the company funds tertiary education via their 150 Bursary Fund, a scheme that was launched in 2012 to celebrate Standard Bank’s 150th anniversary by awarding the same number of bursaries.

This is an undergraduate bursary offered to South African students who are entering their second or third year at university. Applicants must have strong academic credentials, having achieved a 65% aggregate in their most recent results, and should be studying at one of Standard Bank’s preferred institutions, namely UCT; Wits; Rhodes; University of Pretoria; UJ; Stellenbosch; and UKZN.

Postgraduate students studying at the same institutions, who are considered to be financially deserving, and whose results merit it, can apply for the company’s Postgraduate Bursary Programme, where a further 150 bursaries recipients are chosen.

Although the bursary programme is open to everyone meeting the eligibility criteria, preference will be given to previously disadvantaged individuals (as defined in the Employment Equities Act).The bursary programmes are administered by Study Trust on behalf of Standard Bank.

Bursary Benefits

The bursary scheme covers the cost of tuition and prescribed textbooks.

Qualifications Covered

The Standard Bank Group offers funding for qualifications that correspond to their business needs; therefore studies in Commerce; Science; Engineering; IT; and Mathematics are supported.

Application Process

There are a few ways that application forms can be obtained. Students can request a form by sending a self-addressed envelope or SMS with their postal details to Standard Bank, and the form will be sent by post. Alternatively, a form can be sent to the student via email. The recommended method is to complete an online form on the Student Trust website.

This has the added advantage of having the application considered for other bursaries offered by the Trust for which the candidate is suitable. Applications open in July and close at the end of September.

The programme receives a large amount of applications and only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and required to attend a selection process, including psychometric assessments.Bursary awards are announced by the end of December.

Standard Bank was the first bank in SA to introduce the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) in 1981.

bank building

Application Due Date
30 September 2018


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