The University of Cape Town Council has approved a proposal to allow students with debt from 2020 to register for the 2021 academic year. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency (ANA).
The University of Cape Town Council has approved a proposal to allow students with debt from 2020 to register for the 2021 academic year. Picture Leon Lestrade. African News Agency (ANA).

UCT allows students with 2020 debt to register

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Mar 15, 2021

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University of Cape Town students with debt from 2020 have been given the financial clearance to register for the 2021 academic year.

On Saturday, the university council approved the proposal by the executive for students with 2020 debt to be allowed to register in 2021 with immediate effect. The decision also follows that made by the University of Western Cape, two weeks ago, to give financial clearance.

“The student registration fee block in respect of 2020 debt will be lifted for South African students and students from the rest of Africa. The lifting of the fee block for students from Africa is consistent with UCT’s Vision 2030, which positions it as a leading university in and for Africa,” the university said.

The fee block applies to undergraduate and postgraduate students, excluding students from the Graduate School of Business. Iy does not extinguish the existing debt.

According to the council, UCT will make every effort to support students in the process of servicing their debt, with R30 million made available to support criterion-based debt appeals for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The council chair, Babalwa Ngonyama, said:“The funding crisis is a national crisis. No university can solve it on its own – the higher education sector urgently needs intervention from the South African government. We must put the students who are in desperate need of financial aid at the forefront of our thinking and planning, in order to support the future and sustainability of higher education in South Africa.

“We therefore welcome the recent pronouncements by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation to review the National Student Financial Aid Scheme in the best interests of students whose higher education funding is totally dependent on an effective, efficient and adequately-funded government financial aid programme,” said Ngonyama.

The decision too give financial clearance, despite historical debt ,follows last week’s protest by UCT students. The students staged the protest at the university’s fees office where they called on management to act against financial exclusion.

Earlier last week, Wits University students also did the same. The Wits University student debt had ballooned to R1 billion while UCT’s debt was at R1.4bn from at least 1 655 students.

“UCT is deeply concerned about the crisis in the higher education sector, which has been compounded by the pandemic, as well as overall budget constraints. The university believes that there is a need for national consultation on the impact of these factors on the sector. There is also a need for a national action plan to address both the crisis and the future skills development needs of South Africa,” said Ngonyama.

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