UCT confirms qualification despite debt

2013-06-07 19:18
UCT

UCT

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

"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.

"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 and pay his debt, as UCT would not formally give him his degree until he had settled his account.

"I wanted to pay it off at R100 a month, but they said it wasn't enough," Khohlokoane was quoted as saying.

According to the report, he spent the next 10 years working as a petrol attendant, and then another seven as a cleaner.

His employer, Willem Venter, told the newspaper that a farmer in the area, Clarence Johnson, had heard about Khohlokoane's situation and arranged for his debt to be paid.

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

On Friday, Venter will drive Khohlokoane, and his wife and daughter, to his graduation ceremony in Cape Town.

Unpaid debt

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 R141m 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.

- SAPA

Read more on:    uct  |  cape town  |  education
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