Dear students and colleagues
The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) have announced a reduction in the number of programmes eligible for NSFAS funding. The withdrawal of funding support affects three programmes offered at the University of Cape Town (UCT) – the Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting (PGDA), Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and the post-degree law programme (LAWP01/2).
This reduction of student funding after registration had commenced puts all universities in South Africa in a very difficult position. As I communicated to you last month, UCT’s Council has approved funding of R30 million for appeals. A decision has been taken to utilise part of this funding and donations received to provide support to qualifying students in these programmes that are now excluded from funding.
As a result, we can offer this once-off emergency assistance to students that received financial aid or GAP funding last year, and who are not repeating the programme in 2021. These students will therefore receive the same level of financial support as was the case in 2020.
This is an interim solution, and the additional funding will be from re-prioritised allocations within the approved university budget for 2021. Unless the DHET and NSFAS reverse these cuts, we will be faced with the same challenge in 2022 and in subsequent years. With the financial constraints faced by the sector, no new budget can be allocated for this purpose.
As a result, registered PGCE, PGDA and LAWP01/2 students who applied to NSFAS for the first time in 2021 are not able to be assisted at present. The university will however continue to try to source sponsorship for these programmes despite the difficult financial environment.
We will continue to work with other universities to make the case for restoring NSFAS funding to acceptable levels, and with the Students’ Representative Council to do all that we can to support registered students.
Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng
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