The Discovery Foundation in partnership with  the University of Pretoria have announced the implementation of a Medical Student Loan Guarantee Fund managed by  Standard Bank that will put 800 students through medical school over the next 14 years.

The initiative was established with the purpose of providing financial support for medical students who do not have access to full funding for their studies.

The Discovery Foundation – an independent trust that was set up in 2006, will initially capitalise the loan fund with R20 million, which will be used to raise loan funding from Standard Bank to a value of over R40 million per annum.

The initiative follows a proposal to the Foundation by Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Pretoria, Professor Eric Buch.

“Over two years ago, I started seeing many medical students experiencing gaps in funding, which affected completion of their studies. I presented these concerns and how it could be alleviated to several institutions, including Discovery,” said Professor Buch.

Since 2006, the Foundation has invested over R160 million in education and training grants geared towards supporting the education and training of medical specialists in South Africa, as well as academia and research.

“Discovery supports our country’s goal to address shortages in medical and specialist skills. The Discovery Foundation has since 2006 awarded grants to fund critical areas of need in our public healthcare system, including specialist training and research,” said Chairman of the Discovery Foundation, Dr Vincent Maphai.

“Providing medical students with financial support to complete their medical studies extends the purpose of Discovery Foundation and offers another mechanism to help strengthen our healthcare system,” continued Dr Maphai.

The Fund provided 86 students with loans in 2016, and applications are now being received from students registering for MBChB from their second to sixth year of studies at the University of Pretoria in 2017. All qualifying students can apply each year to receive loans of up to of R100,000 per student, which will be repaid upon completion of their studies.

“By offering additional or top-up financial assistance to South African medical students who need it, we can ensure the continued development of medical professionals who can in future provide the quality care our country envisions,” concluded Dr Maphai.

The Fund is currently piloted with students enrolled at the University of Pretoria from second to sixth year and may be expanded other medical schools depending on the success of the initial roll out.

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