UCT enters R252m partnership with MasterCard Foundation to help reverse African 'brain drain'

27 August 2014 | Story by Newsroom

The University of Cape Town has embarked on an ambitious project to help develop 300 committed future leaders from economically disadvantaged communities across sub-Saharan Africa. UCT anticipates that this initiative will help reverse the effects of "brain drain" on the continent.

This project will commence in 2015 as part of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, which will provide UCT with US$23.5 million (about R252 million) over the next 10 years to finance this endeavour.

The international initiative will offer scholarships to deserving candidates, who would otherwise not have the economic means to study at tertiary levels. The candidates will be educated at UCT, either as undergraduate or postgraduate students. They will then return to their home countries to apply their new skills towards contributing to social and economic progress on the continent.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price says the partnership is a significant feather in the university's cap. "It lays the foundation for partnerships with the future academics of the continent while addressing issues of equity, social impact and postgraduate growth," he says.

UCT's partnership with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is expected to assist up to 60 South African students from disadvantaged communities, as well as 240 students from countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

The candidates will have the opportunity to obtain either their first degree or to advance to postgraduate studies. The emphasis will be on postgraduate students who will constitute 80% of the total cohort. UCT will target "first-generation" students who will be the first members of their families to earn a university degree.

Candidates in the programme will be required to sign a declaration that will commit them to returning home upon successful completion of their studies. UCT will work closely with these students to help them secure internships during their studies and career placement after graduating.

One of UCT's core values is a commitment to social justice and using higher education to address inequality and poverty.

"The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is in strong alignment with this goal. UCT and The MasterCard Foundation will work together to identify and develop young people who already have demonstrated a strong sense of commitment to their home communities," says Dr Price.

The formal launch of the project will take place on 1 December 2014. The call for applications is open until 30 September 2014. For more information on the MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, contact Nadia Chalkley on nadia.chalkley@uct.ac.za or 021 650 3601.

Background information:

The MasterCard Foundation has committed a total of US$500 million to its prestigious Global Scholars Program around the world. UCT was selected as a partner in the African rollout as a result of excellence demonstrated in several key areas:

  • The high standard of teaching and research in UCT faculties, the availability of experienced thesis supervisors and the existence of well-run Research hubs and laboratories in which postgraduate students can be embedded.
  • UCT's International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) has a solid record in facilitating internationalisation at the university, including working with international students, running donor-funded mobility programmes and fostering partnerships with universities across the globe. As the programme's administrative hub at UCT, IAPO is leading its implementation.
  • UCT's Careers Service has a strong network among potential employers. It is equipped to take on this initiative's requirements in assisting students with the career development process and connecting them with potential employers. This applies to internships as well as longer-term employment, in South Africa and in the rest of the continent.
  • The university's Office for Postgraduate Studies, which provides additional academic and professional skills training for postgraduate researchers, has a successful track record in strengthening graduate attributes. It will help to develop the broader academic competencies of postgraduate participants in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.

Media release issued by Kemantha Govender, UCT Communication and Marketing Department. Email: Kemantha.Govender@uct.ac.za

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