UWC boots 50 foreigners from campus

A REFUGEE rights group has raised its concerns after the University of the Western Cape dismissed nearly 50 foreign students who allegedly do not have valid study permits.

People Against Suppression, Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (Passop) said that nine of the students were Zimbabweans who were still waiting for their papers to be processed by the Department of Home Affairs under the Zimbabwe Dispensation Project.

In a letter sent to the students the university (UWC) said that the students had earlier this year signed a letter promising to contact the department to ensure that they had valid papers.

"We have notified you in two previous mail messages, that we urgently need a copy of your valid study permit for the current academic year. You have failed to submit the required documentation to our offices," the letter said.

"It is with regret that we wish to inform you that your registration for 2011 has been cancelled with immediate effect.

"Please hand in your student card at our reception immediately.

"You are not allowed to attend any future classes and make use of any of our facilities on campus.

"Please note that the Department of Home Affairs will be informed of your status as not being a registered student any longer."

Passop spokesperson Langton Miriyoga said they would meet with the dismissed students and the Student Representative Council on the matter "as soon as possible".

Miriyoga added that they were also going to approach legal experts on immigration matters.

"UWC is the only university doing this, others such as the University of Cape Town have been patient with students," he said.

He said they were worried that if UWC were to notify the department that they had deregistered the Zimbabwean students, their study permits might not be processed.

Miriyoga said that the dismissed students should have the right to continue their education while their papers were being sorted out.

UWC spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo blamed the Department of Home Affairs, saying it had never told them it would only finish issuing Zimbabweans with their permits by the end of August.

"The university has not received any formal communication from Home Affairs.

"The onus is on them to communicate with us formally because we have approached them on a number of occasions before.

"With those particular students from Zimbabwe, we were expecting feedback from Home Affairs.

"We have been asking them over and over again what the university should do in the meantime, until the permits come out," he said.

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