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University of Cape Town programme for self-identifying students on campus

The opportunity for developing relevant and accessible support services for self-identifying students on UCT’s campus was necessitated by research funded by the Global Fund – NACOSA led MSM-LGBQTIA programme.

The results of the research indicated that self-identifying students on UCT’s campus required support services that did not reinforce hegemonic norms but that were enabling environments for students who may have concerns; experiencing distress; or questioning their sexuality. In addition, the lived experiences of self-identifying students required a review of services that limited the opportunity for the explicit forms of violence and discrimination, as well as the more subtle and/or silent exclusions that results in micro-aggressions against self-identifying students.

Fourteen South African universities were accepted into the funded 3 year programme to focus on service and institutional systems enhancement. Each campus adopted an approach that suited their institutional culture.

UCT focused on developing capacity within existing structures, expanding services and creating new spaces that increased visibility of the institutions programme. Using a theoretical ecological framework and expansive research from sub-Saharan Africa, HAICU adapted best practice from other MSM-LGBQTIA campus programmes, to expand the reach of services to students who would not ordinarily utilise the available network of bio-psychosocial support in the institution.

Based on the research, UCT’s approach was multi-faceted with several collaborators systemically supporting elements of the programme. The programme components were comprised of both biomedical and psychosocial support services.