This is a pilot project to support students all over Africa who want to study Astronomy but where the university in their home country does not offer astronomy courses. We pay for their UNISA (University of South Africa) applications and the astronomy modules for the first and second year. In other words, this is a multi-year project.
The project started slow since it proved to be difficult to spread the word wide enough to get interested students. However, in the meantime we have had a number of student applications and more expressions of interest.
With the money received, we decided to support one student from Mauritius to do the full two year courses plus ten students from the Copperbelt University in Zambia to do the Introductory Astronomy course as part of their university curriculum (they all have a strong interest in the SKA of which Zambia gets an outstation). Unfortunately the Unisa application process is not finished yet and we have no feedback yet whether all student got accepted or whether there were problems with the required
documents for some of them. The successful students will start their course in the first semester of 2016.
By the end of this year we expect to have heard from Unisa on all applications and by mid-2016 we will have feedback on the pass-rate of the selected students which we can use to refine our selection criteria. If successful, we plan to apply for more money for 2017. Furthermore, the project has become part of the Strategic Plan for Astronomy in South Africa and may receive addition support through those channels.