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Fundraising priorities
Home > Donating to UCT > Fundraising priorities > Creating opportunity & building leadership

Creating opportunity & building leadership

Addressing transformation at UCT takes place on various levels, from increasing accessing to learners from poorly resourced communities, to enhancing student support on campus, to strengthening diverse academic leadership. These projects express what we value about being an inclusive and representative university community.


(Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)

Many learners who attend schools in disadvantaged communities perform poorly in the matric examinations, with relatively few of them qualifying for tertiary studies at institutions such as the University of Cape Town. 100-Up is a project that aims to address the problem of under-representation by targeting school learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and coaching them for access to university. The University of Cape Town launched 100-Up in 2010, with five Grade 10 learners selected from each of the twenty schools in Khayelithsa. Apart from the 100 learners who benefitted from the program over three years (Grades 10-12), an extended intervention (known as the Gill Net) was initiated. The intention was to make contact with all other Grade 12 learners in the township who could be eligible for study at UCT. All 184 learners in the extended group passed Matric, with 93 of the 100-UP and 80 of the 84 Gill Net learners obtaining B-degree (university acceptance level) passes; the remaining 11 learners obtained Diploma level passes. These results reflect that enrolment rates of students from Khayelitsha have now doubled since the 100-Up Project reached maturity.

100-Up Plus

(Fundraising needs: staff)

The University of Cape Town acknowledges that the underperformance of the majority of South African public schools continues to have a direct impact on admission to its undergraduate programmes. UCT's 100-Up project brings about redress in this area by working with learners from Khayelitsha through a three year intensive programme that coaches them towards access to UCT but we also need to ensure that they are successful when they reach university. Programme activities are designed and developed to foster cohort cohesion and collegiality among students, building a strong peer network of support. In strengthening students' academic skills, extra help is given to sharpen research and writing as well as to broaden the horizon of study through exposure to topical questions in particular disciplines. In this way the programme inspires a deeper commitment to graduate study and to the creation of new knowledge. In collaboration with the UCT Careers Services, students also coached in a greater awareness of career options. This comprehensive support is provided to students throughout their university career, ensuring a greater throughput and launch of successful work careers.

Beyond School

(Fundraising needs: staff)

Given the unequal distribution of resources among high schools in South Africa, the field of career guidance is complex with little chance of success for one intervention being able to provide equal practice in schools across the country. The Careers Service department at the University of Cape Town understands the need to provide more specialised career guidance especially in schools that are located in disadvantaged communities. The Beyond School project sets out to help high school learners survey their choices and understand the career development process. This is achieved through equipping learners with the skills to make informed study choices, learning how to build a career rather than merely choosing a career, and understanding the complexities of the current working environment. In order to start moving into under-resourced schools further afield, we aim to acquire more equipment that can facilitate the same processes that well-resourced schools receive. We will also run more careers training sessions for UCT students who wish to give back to high school learners in their communities.


(Fundraising needs: scholarships)

Being a research-led university means that we must constantly produce graduates with advanced degrees: a formidable force of young specialists who directly contribute to the growth and development of the country. In addition, it is crucial that we provide assistance to candidates from African countries outside of South Africa, as well as refugee students. However, due to financial stress, many graduates seek employment as only a few are able to pursue advanced studies. The potential contribution that these innovative minds can bring to renewing social, political, scientific and economic systems is therefore lost. UCT distinguishes itself with a long tradition of policies and programmes which ensure that talented undergraduate students in need are given an opportunity to enter the university and succeed here. These interventions include financial assistance and a range of psycho-social programmes to ensure that UCT's graduates are globally competitive, locally relevant and socially responsive individuals, who are fully representative of South Africa's diverse population. Although UCT and the government commit considerable resources to funding postgraduates, the need is greater than we can currently meet. Your contribution will enable the University to create additional bursary support to fund meritorious students in areas of strategic importance.

Disability Service

(Fundraising needs: staff and equipment)

An increasing number of students who gain admission to the University have been diagnosed, or are subsequently diagnosed, with Specific Learning Disabilities. This group of students includes those with a Specific Learning Disorder with impairment in reading or written expression: Dyslexia or Dyspraxia, Attention Deficit or Hyperactivity Disorder and Asperger's Syndrome. One of the functions of the UCT Disability Service is to process applications for examination accommodations for these students. Currently the assessment cost is beyond the reach of students from disadvantaged circumstances and the Disability Service has long been concerned about the unequal access to examination accommodations that this situation creates. The aim of the Equal Access to Examination Concessions initiative is to provide an assessment service to students, such that there is no need to seek private consultations. Furthermore, there is an urgent need to compile South African norms for the tests selected and to trial alternative tests appropriate for a university going age group. The results of the proposed project would benefit not only the UCT community, but the findings would be made available to disability services country wide.

EBE Education Development Unit

(Fundraising needs: staff)

The Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University of Cape Town aims to provide a solid educational environment and experience to talented learners entering university. Despite social and educational challenges, the Faculty aims to ensure that students receive comprehensive support so that they can become successful engineering graduates. Given the need for more engineers in our country and the continent at large, we have decided to respond by improving our level of student support, rather than merely expanding our first year intake, thereby ensuring an increase in the number of engineering graduates. The programme provides a unique suite of psycho-social and academic development support for students. Even though it is aimed at students from disadvantaged schools, the programme is open to all students who develop a need for added support. The aim is to improve the overall throughput rate in the engineering programme from 68%, calculated at the end of 2013, to 75% by 2020.

Enabling Pathways

(Fundraising Needs: Staff and Operational Costs)

UCT?s Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) was established as an academic organisational unit in 1999 to develop and provide enabling pathways for students, extending from school right through to the world of work. The importance of providing students with supportive pathways, transitioning between school and university, is highly topical in higher education discourse as institutions around the globe wrestle with the challenges of high drop-out rates. CHED undertakes to resource students through a holistic programme of services. Many of these services are faculty-located, based on the requirements of each academic discipline, while the overall management and coordination takes place within CHED. Services include academic support and curricular development, connecting students with ?knowledge through technology?, building a critical consciousness among students as global citizens, and career pathing. Donor support would enable CHED to reach more students and also ensure the development of innovative and technologically advanced approaches in navigating the higher education curriculum.

First Year Experience

(Fundraising needs: staff)

For most students in their first year of study at any university, making the transition from secondary school to tertiary study can be a daunting experience. Shortcomings in first-year students' development of conceptual knowledge, critical engagement, academic reading and writing, and learning approaches are likely to have a cumulative effect that leads to poor performance or failure in later years. UCT's First Year Experience is more than a service or a centre but rather a shared value system which prioritises the all-round wellbeing of first year students. It is a collective effort which aims to provide a sense of belonging, helping students adapt to the university, while offering academic and emotional support. Apart from the initial orientation programme, the Early Assessment allows faculties to monitor students' academic progress. It is based on the grades students receive from the mid-semester tests and assignments, and acts as a prompt for students to engage with faculty before problems grow too large to resolve. While the programme's core activities are funded by the university, supplementary funding is sought from donors in order for the programme to reach a growing number of students in need of support to achieve success in their first year of study.

Global Citizenship Programme

(Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)

As development challenges grow with intensity the world over, higher education institutions such as the University of Cape Town 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 Global Citizenship Programme aims at helping students develop a voice as citizens and young leaders, working for social change. It consists of extra-curricular learning, engagement and community service that students can undertake flexibly while pursuing their academic programmes of study. The key objective of the Global Citizenship Programme is to develop students' capacity for leadership on contemporary global-political issues through improving their active listening, critical thinking and logical argument skills. It promotes students' awareness of themselves as citizens of the world with a motivation to work for social justice through involvement in community service or volunteering.

Humanities Education Development Initiative

(Fundraising needs: staff)

The next two decades of higher education in South Africa offers considerable challenges as well as opportunities. As more educationally disadvantaged students matriculate to university, increased support is necessary to facilitate their unique circumstances for academic success. While policy changes at the national level may eventually determine the structure of the curriculum to meet these changing student needs, the University of Cape Town is positioned to implement a new approach to fostering the educational development of disadvantaged students while at the same time grooming the next generation of academics. The Humanities Education Development Initiative introduces a new four year curriculum programme to augment the current three year BA/BSocSci curriculum standards with an additional 120 credits to help educationally challenged students develop the same levels of learning and academic literacy as students from better resourced schools. The programme provides a unique suite of psycho-social and academic development support for all students who require additional resources to realise their academic goals.

Researcher Development Programme

(Fundraising needs: scholarships)

As a research-led university, UCT accepts the responsibility of being one of the core sites in Africa that works to make the country competitive in the global knowledge economy and to educate its future leaders. The Researcher Development Programme offers fellowships to academic staff to help consolidate their academic careers and to build their research productivity. While many academic staff struggle to focus on their own research, due to teaching and administrative responsibilities, the fellowships allow candidates to lessen their teaching load and devote more time, with extra resources, to pursuing their research and publication goals. The impact of the programme will be, on the individual level, a demonstrable improvement in leadership ability and academic status through a focus on research, writing and management skills. At the collective level, the impact will be to elevate a cohort of academics who will be ready to take up from those UCT staff who will be retiring. In this way UCT will ensure its contribution to the growing base of knowledge production and strengthen socially responsive research, developing theory that is appropriate to South Africa's location on the continent.


(Fundraising needs: capital)

With a staggering increase of 50% in our student population over the past decade, the need to expand accommodation facilities has become urgent. A considerable number of UCT students are from beyond the Western Cape, with 20% from beyond South Africa. Ensuring that UCT continues to be the 'university of choice' for local and international students largely depends on our capacity to provide appropriate accommodation. Furthermore, many poorer students from surrounding townships are faced with unconducive living environments and unsafe travelling conditions, making it impossible for them to remain on campus for after-hours study. Being in residence therefore becomes a most critical factor for success. In our goal to create a secure environment for all our students, we recently constructed Obz Square, a brand new 900-bed residence on Main Road, Observatory which is close to the renowned Groote Schuur Hospital. We are now working to expand our residence capacity by a further 700 beds through the refurbishment of existing residences.

Student Wellness Service

(Fundraising Needs: Staff)

Holistic student development is a key concern at UCT as the achievement of academic goals and a healthy lifestyle are integrally linked. The Student Wellness Service works to promote this goal through a health and wellness facility that consists of both medical practitioners and nurses. Our aim is to develop this service into a more proactive programme of nutritional, physical, and mental health initiatives that promote a well-balanced approach to a demanding university schedule. Because of reduced government subsidies, the Student Wellness Service has had to cut staff and services in the face of ever-growing demands. Our hope is that donor partners will support us to grow the service into a larger and more accessible student facility, ensuring access for students across the wide geographical spread of the university campuses and residences.

UCT Maths Competition

(Fundraising needs: events)

Held as an annual event for high schools in the Western Cape, to popularise mathematics, the UCT Maths Competition began in 1977 as an initiative by local teachers. Its rapid growth saw the initiative move to the university campus in 1980 and since then it has been directed by UCT's Prof John Webb and the Mathematics Department. The competition brings over 7000 learners to UCT from all over the Western Cape, and aims to raise awareness among both pupils and teachers that mathematics is an enjoyable subject and accessible for all. It also seeks to identify promising students and offer them opportunities for further development of their mathematical talents. Each year every school in the Western Cape is invited to enter five individuals and five pairs of students into the competition, in each of grades 8 to 12. Gold Award Certificates and Casio calculators are won by the top ten individual contestants and the top three pairs in each grade.