Student news wrap 05/06/19

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News for and about students…

Science journalism drive extends to all 9 provinces

Unemployed graduates in the Western Cape and Free State interested in reporting on science and technology now have the opportunity to join those in the rest of the country and take advantage of the Science and Technology Journalism programme. The two-year training programme was launched in 2016 by the Department of Science and Technology together with the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) to give community media practitioners the skills they need to improve their coverage of science issues. It also focuses on rural areas and indigenous languages. If you’re a unemployed science and engineering, communications or journalism undergraduates, watch below to learn more.

More funding to roll out for ‘missing middle’ students

The Ikusasa Student Financial Aid Programme (ISFAP) seeks to fund up to 200,000 students who do not qualify for funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). Speaking to Unleashing Leadership Potential last week, ISFAP founder Sizwe Nxasana said the institute was committed to improving the academic success rate of funded students and hoped to fund up to 200,000 students in the near future. First announced in 2017, the ISFAP has already funded 1,700 students at 11 universities. According to Nxasana, it has achieved a 90% pass rate, thanks to a “wrap-around support structure for students”. “Missing middle” students come from households with incomes between R350,000 and R600,000 a year, which is above the NSFAS cut off of R350,000. Applications for 2019 have closed already but you can check the application requirements and find more info on the website

Wits gets R1m bursary boost from China

The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) received bursaries worth R1million for its information and communications technology (ICT) faculty last Friday (May 31). The money came from the China-based ZTE Corporation, an international telecommunications provider. The company said it wanted to partner with the university because of its academic reputation and wanted to help 15 deserving students further their studies as IT and telecoms professionals are so scarce. Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said the bursaries would help address the funding gap for students in the ‘missing middle’ and allow them to continue their studies without having to worry about funding. Recently a free 5G training course for ICT postgraduates was launched at Wits by Huawei SA. – Read more on IOL

UWC research on sea sponges could help fight cancer and malaria

Researchers at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) hope a type of sea sponge found exclusively on South Africa’s coasts could be used to fight cancer and malaria. A potent chemical produced by latrunculid sponges to deter predators has been found to have anti-cancer, anti-malaria and anti-microbial properties. Unfortunately these toxic compounds are toxic to normal cells as well, but the UWC researchers hope to find nanoparticles which could deliver these chemical compounds directly to cancer cells without adversely affecting normal cells. You can listen to an interview with Professor Davies-Coleman about this research on Cape Talk radio – Read more on the UWC news page.

Filipino students must now plant trees to graduate

A new Filipino law has combined tradition with the fight against global warming. While tree planting is normally done upon graduation, the law will require all high school and college students to plant at least 10 trees each before they can graduate. This will ensure at least 175 million new trees each year. Illegal logging has been the main reason for the Philippines becoming one of the most severely deforested countries. – Read the full story on the Independent news site.

In case you missed it…

Students at the University of Southern California’s Rocket Propulsion Laboratory recently became the first student team to launch a rocket into space, with their Traveller IV successfully launching more than 100km above the Earth’s surface. Wired.com spoke with the team last week and you can watch below.