UCT confirms qualification despite debt

2013-06-07 15:28

Students who have completed a degree, but not paid all their study fees can still use their qualification, the University of Cape Town (UCT) has said.

“It must be noted that UCT, when requested, and despite the unpaid debt, will confirm to potential employers that the students indeed completed the academic courses successfully,” spokesperson Gerda Kruger said today.

“We do this in order to ensure that the student is not prejudiced in securing employment because of the outstanding fee debt.”

Earlier in the day, Beeld reported that a Western Cape petrol station cleaner was attending his graduation ceremony after completing his social sciences degree 17 years ago.

Joseph Khohlokoane (44) reportedly finished his degree with around R30 000 of study debt in 1996.

He started working as a petrol attendant at a Shell Ultra City in Worcester to try to pay his debt, as UCT would not formally give him his degree until he had settled his account.

Over the years, the debt had accrued interest and had grown to R100 000.

Kruger confirmed it was UCT policy to not allow students to graduate if they had outstanding debts, saying it was certainly not unique to the university.

“UCT has a very generous financial aid system to help students in financial need. In fact, we distribute some R141 million a year to students from various sources,” Kruger said.

“It is, however, expected that students pay UCT the fee that they have agreed with the institution. Student fees are a large proportion of UCT’s income and we are reliant on that income to sustain our operations.”

The university said it was grateful that only about 0.6% of the university’s annual student fees were unpaid at year end.

“We encourage students to seek guidance if they are struggling to pay the fee debt after qualifying,” Kruger said.

She cited an example where the higher education and training department made funding available, which could assist select students who had completed degrees, but were unable to pay off their debt.

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