Background – University of Cape Town (UCT) – South Africa

UCT is the oldest university in South Africa, having been founded in 1829. The university has a long tradition of social responsiveness, admitting women from 1880, and black students from the 1920’s. UCT consistently opposed apartheid, with numbers of black students increased rapidly from the 1980s.

In 1928 the university transferred to the slopes of Devil’s peak, on land bequeathed by Cecil John Rhodes.

Today UCT comprises six faculties – Commerce, Engineering, Law, Health Sciences, Humanities and Science, over 3 campuses. Over 24,000 students from diverse backgrounds are currently enrolled, including a significant number from the Southern African Development Community.

UCT is governed by the UCT Council, and is a not-for-profit institution.

Financial Aid for Impoverished Students

A major challenge facing UCT, situated as it is in a developing country, is that of providing adequate funding support for talented students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

While some 20% of government expenditure is allocated to education, 40 years of apartheid has left a lasting legacy.

Of a total population of 50 million, around 18% of adults are illiterate. Education during apartheid years saw the white population (20% of population) receiving a high standard, free education, while the black and coloured population (80%) received a basic “Bantu” education.

Today 65% of whites over 20 years old and 40% of Indians have a high school or higher qualification, while this figure is only 14% among blacks and 17% among the coloured population. The greatest challenges lie in the poorer, rural provinces such as the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

South Africa has 31% of the population under 15 years of age, further exacerbating the need for education funds in the future.

University of Cape Town Australian Alumni

Of some 100,000 UCT alumni (graduates) worldwide, over 2000 reside in Australia. These graduates have on the whole achieved a high degree of success and income level in their adopted country. Many wish to give back to the institution which provided the education to facilitate their relocation and success, and thereby provide development aid to South Africa.

Hence a significant number of Australian UCT alumni have financially supported the UCT, with a major focus on provision of financial support development and social justice programs in the areas of education, health and social justice. Donors to UCT in Australia have however been hampered by a lack of tax deductibility, and now wish to formalise the establishment of a charitable trust dedicated to UCT’s development and education objectives.

UCT Australian Trust aims to contact members of UCT alumni chapters being established in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Independent, tax advantaged trusts which support the UCT development programs have been established over the past 30 years by UCT alumni in the UK, USA and Canada.  These trusts provide the opportunity for tax deductible donations to donors in those countries.  Further details can be found at, and and on the web site, international offices.

Australian UCT alumni wish to establish the UCT Australian Trust, and to seek recognition as a Deductible Gift Recipient.

It is envisaged that the UCT Australian Trust will also garner support from the wider Australian community, including corporations, foundations and individuals, once tax deductibility has been achieved.

University of Cape Town Australian Trust – Education

UCT donors strongly believe in the adage “teach a man to fish”, believing it is better to provide the skills necessary to enable beneficiaries to rise above poverty, rather than providing welfare to necessitous recipients.

The most important tool to achieve development at the individual, family, community and national level is to provide appropriate, affordable education.

South Africa has one of the highest university drop-out rates in the world. Research shows that a major cause of this is the high cost of studying which makes it prohibitive for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Securing funds to support financially disadvantaged students is therefore one of the most critical issues facing higher education in South Africa.

UCT is committed to supporting financially needy students. This has helped ensure that its graduation success rates are substantially higher than the South African average and that more talented and capable graduates leave UCT each year empowered to make a difference.

The need for financial assistance far outstrips the funds that the University has available to give. While most of its financial aid comes from its General Operating Budget, a significant percentage is provided by private donations from alumni and supporters of the University. The University is appealing to all alumni and friends to help it grow this portion so that it can assist even more students. By investing in undergraduate financial aid, donors are able to invest in the future of South Africa by helping to develop the skills and leadership needed to realise economic growth and social upliftment.

Investment needed

A full-cost bursary (tuition, residence, books, travel and stipend) costs in the region of R60, 000 (A$9,000) per year.

While the need for financial assistance is common across the University there is a major need for undergraduate bursaries in the Humanities, Sciences and Health Sciences.

The UCT Trust Australia aims to provide financial assistance to financially disadvantaged students in the faculties of Humanities, Sciences, Health Sciences, Commerce, Law and Engineering.

Australian corporations and organisations with South African links, and Australian Foundations providing overseas aid may also wish to support the UCT Australian Trust.

Education Development Unit

With the assistance of a major Australian Donor, the EDU in the Commerce Department provides an alternative route for disadvantaged students to obtain a Commerce and Business degree. While the same course material is taught, the degree is completed over 4 to 5 years, with additional tuition, mentoring, counselling and life skills ( including English for those whose first language is not English). Older students provide assistance to first year students. Completion rates for the degree has improved dramatically.

School Development Unit

The UCT is aware that insufficient students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including rural areas and urban townships, complete their high school education and receive graduation results allowing university entrance.

To increase school matriculation grades, the UCT’s School development Unit has a three pronged strategy to assist disadvantaged students increase results.

Teacher Training

Courses are held at the UCT to promote quality teaching and learning in the fields of languages, mathematics, Sciences and Life Skills. Advanced Certificate of Education bursaries are provided to underskilled teachers, and are also supported with site based tutorials and support in the classroom.

Primary School Intervention – iKwezi Project

This is an Early Childhood Development Primary School improvement project that offers continuing teacher professional development from grades R to 6 in language and Mathematics.

Gifted High School students in the Khayelitsha township are given additional tuition and mentoring to increase grades to university standard.

The Stella Clark Award recognises the work of exceptionally talented and dedicated teachers in impoverished  areas, – the unsung heroes who motivate and inspire their learners to perform well and rise above their poverty stricken areas.

Details of the programs supported can be found at UCT Australian Trust Summary and Objectives Feb 2013.