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Fundraising Priorities

Our fundraising priorities feature projects which demonstrate our commitment to producing new knowledge and enabling students to pursue excellence in their respective fields. This ability to explore new frontiers in our work is only possible because of the donor partnerships we are fortunate to have. Without such support, we would be severely curtailed in what we could imagine possible.

We invite you to consider becoming donors to the Distinguishing UCT Campaign, the campaign to grow the university’s endowment, in addition to the donations you already make. This equips the university to secure UCT’s premier position as the leading university on the African continent while forging a more inclusive identity for future generations.

  • Advancing African Scholarship in the Global Arena

    African Climate and Development Initiative

    (Fundraising needs: scholarships and chair)    

    The problems of responding to the challenge of climate change and of achieving sustainable forms of development are high priority on the global development agenda.

    These problems are particularly difficult to manage on the African continent:

    • high vulnerability to climate change impacts
    • developmental challenges
    • growing population numbers

    Despite these challenges, the community of professionals and body of research on climate change in Africa is small.  The African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) was established in 2011 as a response to this need. 

    ACDI's vision is to help transition our region into a low-carbon economy and one that is resilient to the adverse impacts of climate change.

    With increased donor support, we aim to create an endowment for a Chair in Climate and Development.

    Centre for African Studies Gallery

    (Fundraising needs: staff, equipment and events)      

    While African art and photography have in recent years become part of a global dialogue, African representation is highly skewed in terms of the view of the outsider as opposed to the insider.

    The Centre for African Studies, whose mission is to promote African Studies at UCT and beyond, plays a pivotal role in conducting research and teaching that is Africa focused.

    The Gallery, housed within the Centre, presents art and expressions of visuality for the continent of Africa in the form of art and photographic exhibitions, music, film showings and mini festivals.

    Critical to the sustainability of this vision for the Centre for African Studies Gallery, is supplementary funding from donors. Such funding would allow the Gallery to extend its work beyond exhibition into an academic hub that stimulates and collects new perspectives of African heritage.

    Three-Way PhD Global Partnership Programme

    (Fundraising needs: scholarships)     

    Being an Afropolitan university means ensuring that our research on indigenous knowledge systems contributes to resolving problems of global concern. This is achieved through the establishment of academic partners across the world who can thereby gain a more integrated understanding of our natural and social worlds. Greater exposure to research findings from our region helps to ensure that regional challenges are appreciated within the wider context of international development. The Global Three-Way PhD Partnership Program is an initiative of the University of Cape Town to expose and develop the expertise of PhD candidates by linking their research projects to partners in the Global South and the Global North. In order to establish the finest and most effective model for advancing new knowledge and a next generation of researchers, efforts are focused on enabling a triangle of experience and skill. While the University of Cape Town provides financial assistance to postgraduate students from its reserves, the need far outweighs the fund. Donor funding is invited to support doctoral candidates embarking on the project.

  • Developing Cutting-Edge Health Care Interventions

    Clinical Neurosciences Institute

    (Fundraising needs: Capital & Equipment) 

    The field of clinical neurosciences at the University of Cape Town comprises neurosurgery, neurology, neuropsychology and neuropsychiatry, together with various allied specialties such as neuroradiology and neuropathology.

    The Clinical Neurosciences Institute, has the goal of bringing together neurosurgeons, neurologists and neuro-psychologists that collaborate in the treatment of a number of major causes of brain injury, including stroke, central nervous system infection and trauma, as well as emerging areas such as functional neurosurgery.

    Our aim is to foster greater collaboration through relocating the academic activities of these disciplines to the same building.

    A number of individual donors have already pledged capital grants that will initiate the renovation and refurbishment of J-Block at Groote Schuur Hospital. The Institute will function as an integrated unit to manage the throughput of state patients who have neurological diseases requiring multi-disciplinary input.

    Eden District Health Sciences Platform

    (Fundraising needs: Endowment)

    The Eden District Health Sciences project involves a placement teaching and service facility at hospitals in the Eden District. Final year students join the clinical teams at these hospitals and contribute to service delivery.

    Students are exposed to a wide range of health challenges in a more rural setting, while these medical institutions benefit from the added expertise that accompanies the transition to an academic hospital.

    With the movement of senior students away from the Health Sciences Faculty in Observatory, Cape Town, more space is available for the faculty to admit a larger cohort of students in the first year and ultimately increase the number of health care practitioners that the university produces.

    Forensic Pathology Institute

    (Fundraising needs: Capital & Equipment)      

    South Africa's high crime rate and a lack of sufficient resources in forensic pathology have given rise to excessively high rates of unsolved murder cases.

    Unanswered questions surrounding the death of loved ones, is a harsh reality that thousands of citizens face every day. In the Western Province Metro region alone, over 6000 cases per year are presented for examination, an exorbitant load that is shared between only two forensic pathology laboratories.

    The University of Cape Town's Forensic Medicine Department, under the leadership of Prof Lorna Martin, has undertaken to set right this injustice to the dignity of crime victims through the establishment of a new forensic pathology institute.

    The facility will allow for pathologists to be trained and work as expert consultants to investigators, courts, prosecutors and defense counsel. In this way, the Institute will provide an improved quality of response to those who seek answers regarding the untimely death of their loved ones.

    The new facility will also enable many unsolved or cold cases to be reopened and investigated with the latest technology and expertise.


  • Cultivating Artistic Excellence

    Baxter Theatre Centre

    (Fundraising needs: endowment, operational costs and events)      

    UCT’s Baxter Theatre Centre caters for diverse audiences by presenting a range of music, dance and theatre productions.

    In addition, the Centre addresses many of the historical inequalities that persist in the performing arts, due to economic disadvantages.

    • Community development projects, arts festivals and workshops seek to develop artists and provide them with a platform to present their work.
    • The Baxter promotes access to the theatre by providing transport for approximately 3000 patrons
    • By keeping rental costs as low as possible for small production companies, burgeoning artists and community organisations

    The Zabalaza Theatre Festival provides community theatre groups from Cape Town with

    • theatre training
    • a 3-week festival platform to exhibit their work
    • professional audition opportunities,
    • mini-festivals in target communities

    Programmes such as these rely on donor funding to benefit communities that have lacked exposure to the performing arts.

    Irma Stern Gallery

    (Fundraising needs: Capital Costs)      

    For over forty years, UCT has housed the Irma Stern art collection at the museum on Cecil Road, Lower Campus. Irma Stern, one of South Africa's most highly regarded fine artists, made this place her home until she died in 1966. UCT is responsible for the maintenance of the museum. The layout of the museum belies the value of the work in it, particularly the magnificent African artefacts collected by Irma Stern over the years. Apart from restoration work on parts of the building that have deteriorated with time, the plan is to create a new entrance for visitors that would highlight the spectacular splendour of the museum. An upgraded reception area would also be able to accommodate a bookshop and museum coffee shop. The improved environment will add greatly to the experience of the house and increase venue hire possibilities, a great potential source of additional income.

    Performing and Creative Art

    (Fundraising needs: Endowment)      

    As a premiere training institute for performing and creative artists, UCT has attracted and nurtured some of the best talent seen on local and international stages. From opera stars to fine arts practitioners, dancers to film and theatre industry professionals, UCT graduates are famed for challenging convention and pushing the boundaries within their chosen fields. In this way they have made meaningful contributions to the arts in South Africa and beyond. As is true of all performing and creative arts disciplines, specialised training and mentorship are expensive undertakings. Given that our students can only perfect their crafts within the context of practical production, stage performance, and individual coaching, the costs of maintaining these study programmes often exceed the general operating budget. It is only through the assistance of donors that we are able to offer bursaries to talented students and mount productions to assess and showcase their work.

  • Pursuing Innovation & Enterprise


    (Fundraising needs: Operational Costs and Equipment)      

    The Abalobi project is an imperative to empower previously marginalised communities that build their livelihoods within the fishing industry.

    Abalobi (an isiXhosa word for small-scale fisher) is an integrated catch management system designed as a mobile phone application. It enables fishermen to be integrated into mainstream information and resource networks, from fishery monitoring and maritime safety to local development and market opportunities.

    The project is based at UCT’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences.  Many of the team members are small-scale fishers of South Africa who were also part of the UCT team involved in the design of South Africa’s new Small Scale Fisheries Policy.

    Fishers have already started making use of the application.

    It has an integrated chat facility they can use to establish the safety of crew in severe weather, and to encourage co-operation in the setting of price per unit for the daily catch. The latter is especially encouraging for South African small-scale fishers, granting them greater empowerment in the value chain.

    With donor funding, the project aims to increase the number of pilots and include more coastal regions.

    African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management

    (Fundraising needs: scholarships and staff)      

    The demand for specialist mathematical, quantitative and investment expertise far exceeds the current supply within our region. These skills are indispensable, specifically in Investment Banking and Asset Management, but are also required in other sub-sectors. The African Institute for Financial Markets and Risk Management (AIFMRM) was established in 2014 as a postgraduate institute within the Faculty of Commerce at the University of Cape Town, with the aim of becoming a benchmark for academic financial market and risk management entities across the African continent. The Institute adopts a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary approach to building greater capacity and is especially in need of support for fellowships in grooming the most promising talent. Using a foundation of innovative and continent-focused research and scholarship, AIFMRM has undertaken to create the next generation of African finance academics dedicated to rigorous scholarship.

    Bertha Centre

    (Fundraising Needs: Scholarships and Operational Costs)      

    The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship is a specialised unit at the UCT Graduate School of Business. It works to uncover, pioneer, and connect innovators with entrepreneurs, generating inclusive opportunities and advancing social justice in Africa. Established in partnership with the Bertha Foundation in 2011, it has become a leading academic centre dedicated to advancing social innovation and entrepreneurship. Since then it has integrated social innovation into the Graduate School of Business curriculum, established a wide community of practitioners, and awarded over R4 million in scholarships to African students. None of these efforts would be realized without the support of donors, whose contributions particularly help bolster the Centre?s work in uncovering, pioneering and advancement in the fields of health and education innovations. Additional resources are needed to provide scholarships or discounted fees, for those from under-resourced regions, to participate in the Centre?s short courses such as Leading Social Entrepreneurship, Impact Investing in Africa, and Innovation in Education for Leaders. Beneficiaries of the Bertha Centre's work include government across all levels, students from across Africa, social entrepreneurs, and social innovators.

  • Creating Opportunity & Building leadership


    (Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)      

    Many learners who attend schools in disadvantaged communities perform poorly in the matric examinations, with relatively few of them qualifying for tertiary studies at institutions such as the University of Cape Town. 100-Up is a project that aims to address the problem of under-representation by targeting school learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and coaching them for access to university. The University of Cape Town launched 100-Up in 2010, with five Grade 10 learners selected from each of the twenty schools in Khayelithsa. Apart from the 100 learners who benefitted from the program over three years (Grades 10-12), an extended intervention (known as the Gill Net) was initiated. The intention was to make contact with all other Grade 12 learners in the township who could be eligible for study at UCT. All 184 learners in the extended group passed Matric, with 93 of the 100-UP and 80 of the 84 Gill Net learners obtaining B-degree (university acceptance level) passes; the remaining 11 learners obtained Diploma level passes. These results reflect that enrolment rates of students from Khayelitsha have now doubled since the 100-Up Project reached maturity.


    (Fundraising needs: scholarships)      

    Being a research-led university means that we must constantly produce graduates with advanced degrees: a formidable force of young specialists who directly contribute to the growth and development of the country. In addition, it is crucial that we provide assistance to candidates from African countries outside of South Africa, as well as refugee students. However, due to financial stress, many graduates seek employment as only a few are able to pursue advanced studies. The potential contribution that these innovative minds can bring to renewing social, political, scientific and economic systems is therefore lost. UCT distinguishes itself with a long tradition of policies and programmes which ensure that talented undergraduate students in need are given an opportunity to enter the university and succeed here. These interventions include financial assistance and a range of psycho-social programmes to ensure that UCT's graduates are globally competitive, locally relevant and socially responsive individuals, who are fully representative of South Africa's diverse population. Although UCT and the government commit considerable resources to funding postgraduates, the need is greater than we can currently meet. Your contribution will enable the University to create additional bursary support to fund meritorious students in areas of strategic importance.

    Enabling Pathways

    (Fundraising needs: staff and operational costs)      

    UCT's Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) was established as an academic organisational unit in 1999 to develop and provide enabling pathways for students, extending from school right through to the world of work. The importance of providing students with supportive pathways, transitioning between school and university, is highly topical in higher education discourse as institutions around the globe wrestle with the challenges of high drop-out rates. CHED undertakes to resource students through a holistic programme of services. Many of these services are faculty-located, based on the requirements of each academic discipline, while the overall management and coordination takes place within CHED. Services include academic support and curricular development, connecting students with 'knowledge through technology', building a critical consciousness among students as global citizens, and career pathing. Donor support would enable CHED to reach more students and also ensure the development of innovative and technologically advanced approaches in navigating the higher education curriculum.

    Student Wellness Service

    (Fundraising needs: staff)      

    Holistic student development is a key concern at UCT as the achievement of academic goals and a healthy lifestyle are integrally linked. The Student Wellness Service works to promote this goal through a health and wellness facility that consists of both medical practitioners and nurses. Our aim is to develop this service into a more proactive programme of nutritional, physical, and mental health initiatives that promote a well-balanced approach to a demanding university schedule. Because of reduced government subsidies, the Student Wellness Service has had to cut staff and services in the face of ever-growing demands. Our hope is that donor partners will support us to grow the service into a larger and more accessible student facility, ensuring access for students across the wide geographical spread of the university campuses and residences.

  • Promoting Good Governance & Human Rights


    (Fundraising needs: scholarships)      

    The availability of social, economic and political data on Africa has never been greater but these rich resources are far more frequently produced and used by scholars based outside of the continent, rather than by African students and scholars to understand their own societies. Many academics based in Africa struggle to produce analytic policy reports or to publish peer-reviewed research, largely due to the heavy administrative and teaching demands in African Universities, leaving them with little time for conducting in-depth analysis. Quantitative analytical skills also continue to lag far behind skills in qualitative analysis. A partnership between the University of Cape Town and Afrobarometer responds to this need through two flagship initiatives that build capacity among young African academics. The Summer School Programme offers substantive courses in quantitative analytic techniques while the Masters Programme in Democracy and Governance covers a more comprehensive training in the disciplines of research, method, and data analysis.

    Children's Institute

    (Fundraising needs: staff, operational costs and equipment)      

    Children and the issues that threaten their well-being are of primary concern for every society and in South Africa, the challenges we face in protecting the rights of our children are still critical. One in five children remains chronically malnourished and children younger than five account for over 80% of all child deaths. Over one in three children do not have access to basic services such as housing and sanitation. This is the kind of information that reminds us of our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in our society. The Children's Institute has, over the past 10 years, served as the 'hands and feet' of child policy and advocacy work in South Africa, identifying the needs of children and giving them a voice. The most visible project of the Children's Institute, the South African Child Gauge, is an annual publication that monitors the situation of our children.

    Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice

    (Fundraising needs: scholarships and chair)      

    Improvements in governance and accountability, economic policy, and international economic circumstances have led to more consistent growth in the current period than at any previous time in modern African history. In order to sustain and expand on this growth, we must address the urgent and ongoing need to train highly skilled individuals to serve as senior officials in government and government agencies. The Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice rises to this challenge in the area of strategic leadership in government. Its core mission is to train senior officials in government service in Africa and other African countries, as well as to train top graduates for public sector leadership. The School offers an MPhil in Development Policy and Practice, and a programme of executive short courses that provides training for senior officials and elected office bearers. Your investment in the work carried out by the GSDPP will contribute towards the implementation of Africa's key development goals, through the nurturing of highly skilled leaders.