University campuses plunged into chaos over cash issues

The North West University has been one of the tertiary institutions affected in unrest at institutions of higher learning .
The North West University has been one of the tertiary institutions affected in unrest at institutions of higher learning .
Image: Thulani Mbele

Poor students from several universities that have been hit by protests say their frustrations have been aggravated by lack of communication between universities and department of higher education.

There has been a resurgence of protests at some universities over lack of accommodation and unpaid fees, among others. The protests that have often turned violent and led to the destruction of property have received widespread condemnation.

Yesterday, Sowetan spoke to several members of student representative councils from different universities gripped by the protests.

Nontokozo Madikhetla from the North West University blamed universities for failing to implement decisions of the department of higher education for the unrest.

"The universities fail to adhere to what has been implemented by the department of higher education. Students are not able to register despite the communication from minister Blade Nzimande for universities to allow students to register," Madikhetla said.

Zeke Wareley of the University of Western Cape said the issues mainly black students were raising were raised even in previous years.

"These are common issues that arise every year. Some of our students were forced to pay R4,000 registration fee because the institutions refused to do a financial bulk clearance as per orders of the minister of higher education. There is no accommodation for students who find themselves in dire situations," Wareley said.

Lehlohonolo Moremi of the Tshwane University of Technology said National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was also to blame.

"Students are frustrated because they could not register; they have outstanding fees and they also don't have access to their results. All we want is free registration for all the students," Moremi said.

Last week after Nzimande met with South African Student Union (SAUS), he said they were looking into the matter of dearth of funding for "missing middle" students, those who do not qualify for NSFAS but struggle to afford higher education fees.

He said Universities South Africa (USAf) indicated that all universities have processes in place to assist missing middle students with debt so that they can register.

USAf's director of operations and sector support, Linda Meyer, said the protests were as a result of the overarching challenges experienced by students belonging in the missing middle category of self-funded students "who will still struggle to keep up with tuition fees".

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.