AST week's Vice-Chancellor's Open Planning Forum concentrated on issues surrounding the postgraduate financial aid system. This is in light of a Postgraduate Funding Committee being assembled to address some of the policy issues relating to the funding of postgraduate students.
"At present postgraduate students make up a third of UCT's student body and yet the University only allocates R4-million from its General Operating Budget towards postgraduate funding, compared to R30-million that is allocated to undergraduate funding," said Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Martin West.
In his presentation, West explained that a further R27-million was awarded to postgraduate students through independent scholarships, donors and loans. The total funding through the university books was just over R31-million for postgraduates compared with about R58-million for undergraduates from all sources.
"I would hope that the new Postgraduate Funding Committee will look quite carefully at the figures and go into greater depth because they may mask things," West said. He added that the biggest problem facing the postgraduate students was that they did not have guaranteed financial support. "Most students do not know in advance of the academic year whether or not they will qualify for support from agencies. In fact most financial support for these students is only allocated to them halfway through the year."
West said that it would be up to the University to provide some kind of funding for students until their funding came through. There were a number of urgent policy questions that would face the new Committee in its efforts to improve the funding situation for postgraduates at UCT.