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University of Cape Town Fund Inc.
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Student-Centred Development


Completing a university degree is the aspiration of countless young South Africans, enthused with the hope of making an impactful contribution to our fast developing region. The challenge of funding this lifelong asset is one that the University of Cape Town (UCT) has committed itself to, ensuring that no student will be turned away simply on the basis of financial need. We endeavour to optimise this opportunity through more financial assistance programmes for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Bursaries make allowance for mentoring and tutoring facilities, career pathing, as well as health and wellness. While some students are supported by National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding, those who fall outside of the R 350 000 annual household income limit, still have funding needs due to family commitments. If such students are from families with an annual household income below R 600 000, they are assisted with gap funding that ranges from R 20 000 to R 100 000.  An undergraduate bursary is estimated at an average cost of approximately R140 000 per student per year. Not all students in need of financial assistance are fully funded and while partial sponsorship of tuition and residence is a welcome support, they still bear the challenge of funding ancillary costs. As a result, many students find themselves in financial debt and while they are academically eligible to continue in their study programmes, historical student fee debt still needs to be reconciled. UCT is reliant on donors to consider partnering with us to assist students who face the risk of not completing their studies due to historical student fee debt. In many instances, these outstanding fees range from around R 10 000 to R 100 000 per student.

Given the critical shortage of postgraduate qualifications in South Africa and the need to produce more specialists to increase the knowledge base of our region, UCT aims to attract a larger number of postgraduate candidates for study. Since many outstanding students do not have the financial capacity to pursue honours, masters or doctoral degrees, the need often outweighs the limited resources that the university can provide. Postgraduate bursary programmes at UCT are also structured as comprehensive support packages, responding to students’ needs for support with academic fees, residence fees, research costs, and essential living expenses.  Honours Degree bursaries are calculated at R 150 000 per year, while Masters Degree programmes are set at R 165 000 per year, and Doctoral Degree programmes at R 180 000 per year.

Student Wellness Service

Holistic student development is among our key concerns at UCT since the achievement of academic goals is dependent on a healthy lifestyle. The Student Wellness Service works to promote this value through a range of interventions offered by a professional team consisting of medical practitioners, psychiatrists, nurses, a social worker and psychologists. The team is dedicated to helping students adopt healthy living values and to make life choices that promote their well-being.

While this has become a significant and indispensable part of student services at UCT, the growing student population and diversity of needs have necessitated a more substantial level of primary health care. This is especially with regard to care-giving approaches that are more culturally diverse and likewise attuned to healing therapies. Of particular concern is the increased risk that students face with mental health issues, given the demanding workloads and tight time constraints of university schedules, as well as the trauma that is associated with a politically transitioning environment. The increased services include a crisis care line, on site crisis intervention service after hours, over weekends and public holidays, as well as psychologists who have a lived experience of previous disadvantage. We also need to increase the number of doctors and nurses who tend to physical ailments, particularly for students who live in residence and are on financial aid.

The Service hopes to build a more sustainable and long term service on campus that is based on the principles of Primary Health Care, focusing on Health Promotion – Disease Prevention – Curative Care. The annual budget for the Service is calculated at R 2 800 000.

Global Citizenship Programme

Universities globally are increasingly under pressure to graduate students who think more broadly than their degree or discipline, are critical thinkers and active citizens committed to fight for social justice in all realms. The Global Citizenship Programme takes these issues as its direct mandate to work across the university, engaging students as active, critical citizens.

The Programme is an active learning initiative for innovation in critical global citizenship, community engagement, and social justice pedagogy. We develop and offer short credit-bearing courses, build partnerships on and off campus with relevant organisations, and contribute to debate and discussion on transformation and engaged student learning. In essence, the programme is about learning and development with a focus on opportunities for citizenship and leadership. In particular it asks students to think about, and act on, these roles in the context of both global concerns and local issues. This is done by enabling students to engage with global issues, coupled with instilling a motivation in them to work for social justice through involvement in local community service and volunteering.

In this way, it provides a space for an enriched and wider education experience to complement their primary degree programme. Over the past eight years, student registrations have reached over 2000 from a diversity of academic disciplines on campus. The programme runs at an operating budget of approximately R 1 700 000 per year.

Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Education                                                               

As society evolves into a more inclusive and fluid social system, so do our economies need to incorporate innovative means of building prosperity. While the traditional model of an employee society was built on individuals conducting standardised tasks in a predictable manner, the entrepreneurial model now focuses on the way individuals respond to opportunities in the face of uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Within this global context, university students need more than the traditional academic curricula, and are increasingly required to graduate with transferable skillsets and mind-sets.

The UCT Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Education programme aims to offer a series of block courses and workshops to students, to explore entrepreneurship as a career option and develop related skills useful in this context. The project will be a hub of entrepreneurial activity on campus for students to expand their academic development into an inventive set of skills. This is so that students are not only intrapreneurial, as job seekers, but also entrepreneurial, as job creators. Hosted by the university’s Careers Service, the entrepreneurship and innovation learning opportunities will take place concurrently with students’ academic streams, and also offer full-time courses.

While donors are invited to consider elements of the programme that they may choose to fund, the total estimated cost of the programme per year is calculated at R 5 400 000.

Knowledge Co-Op

As development challenges grow with intensity the world over, higher education institutions such as the UCT are aware of their need to groom socially responsive leaders. UCT has therefore made a commitment to produce graduates whose qualifications are internationally recognised and locally applicable, underpinned by values of engaged citizenship and social justice. The Knowledge Co-Op at UCT is a programme that helps to put this mission into action by matching student research projects with community based organisations that are in need of skills and research expertise to improve the capacity of their work. UCT students, under the supervision of project leaders, are therefore given the opportunity to see the direct impact of their work through interactive engagement with communities that lack development resources. The experience is an invaluable lesson for students who are empowered to practice this kind of innovative leadership in the careers that they will pursue. As the Knowledge Co-Op works to foster socially-responsive learning, our students are able to acquire the necessary civic literacy, knowledge and skills to build a more just, equitable, and unified South African society. This is the calibre of citizenship that UCT fosters among its students and we look forward to funding partnerships in this responsibility of grooming our next generation of innovative leaders. Our fundraising target is set at R 800 000 per year.

Excellence in Law

Since the past two decades, South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights have been universally heralded as among the most progressive human rights documents. Under the globally admired leadership of Nelson Mandela and other struggle heroes, this achievement is a victorious culmination of the struggle against apartheid and the birth of a constitutional democracy. While this pivotal project in our country’s history embraces a range of political, social, economic and cultural rights, the challenges of inequality still persist.

One of the most urgent of these challenges is access to education, as highlighted by rolling student protests between 2015 and 2017. The University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Law addresses these issues through the Growing a Lawyer Campaign, which was launched last year. With a keen focus on strengthening our constitution and rule of law, through education, the campaign endeavours to raise support for bursaries and recruit prospective lawyers from all sectors of society.

The campaign focuses on conducting research and producing reports on the changing nature of law practice, raising educational awareness about the practice of law among high school students, and increasing the number of bursaries available to students. The total annual cost of a bursary to study law at UCT is calculated at ZAR 140 000.

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