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UCT announces it will not block registration of students with 2020 debt

14 March 2021 - 09:51 By belinda pheto
Chairperson of the UCT council Babalwa Ngonyama has announced the university will not block the registration of students with debt from 2020.
Chairperson of the UCT council Babalwa Ngonyama has announced the university will not block the registration of students with debt from 2020.
Image: UCT website

As university students continue to fight against financial exclusion, the University of Cape Town (UCT) has announced it will not block students from registering if they have debt.

In a statement, the chair of the university’s council, Babalwa Ngonyama, said the university noted the challenges inflicted on the education system by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The university said the student registration fee block, in respect of 2020 debt, would be lifted for SA students and students from the rest of Africa with immediate effect. This would apply to both undergraduate and postgraduate students, excluding students from the UCT Graduate School of Business.

The university however emphasised the lifting of the fee block does not extinguish the existing debt.

In an effort to support students in servicing their debt, UCT said it would make R30m available to support criterion-based debt appeals for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

“The funding crisis is a national crisis. No university can solve it on its own — the higher education sector urgently needs intervention from the SA government. We must put the students who are in desperate need of financial aid at the forefront of our thinking and planning, in order to support the future and sustainability of higher education in SA,” the statement read.

The UCT council said universities needed to work together to find creative and innovative solutions to this crisis, adding that it remained committed to support efforts to try to ensure that academically eligible and deserving students are not denied the opportunity to study because of a lack of funding.

The council also said it noted with concern the disturbing events unfolding at universities in the country and the heightened tense atmosphere on many campuses. The council extended its condolences to the family of Mthokozisi Ntumba who was shot dead during student fee protests in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, last week.

“Council reaffirms the value of the right to protest — to do so lawfully and peacefully and without fear of reprisal. Council also calls on all those concerned, including the SA Police Service, to exercise the necessary restraint.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc, compounding the many challenges that governments and institutions have had to face. Universities are not exempt, and the impact on staff and students has been profound. This is a time that calls for sensitivity, care and a humane approach to the funding crisis,” the university council said.