Varsity students on aid to get free data

The announcement comes after letter from students addressed to the university management on Monday in which they wanted to know when are they going to start receiving data
The announcement comes after letter from students addressed to the university management on Monday in which they wanted to know when are they going to start receiving data
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov

All University of Johannesburg undergraduate, honours and master's students registered in a formal subsidised programme, on various network providers, are expected to be provided with data today for a period of 30 days to make online learning possible during the Covid-19 lockdown.

According to an internal document addressed to the student representative bodies that Sowetan has seen, qualifying students on MTN, Vodacom, Cell C and Telkom network programme will be provided with 30GB (10GB plus 20GB night owl) for the period mentioned.

All students who have verified their current cellphone numbers will receive their
data by today.

The document said the students who failed to verify their cellphone numbers by yesterday will not receive the data.

The communique is in response to a students' letter on Monday to the university management in which they wanted to know when are they going to start receiving data for their online learning as the universities are closed due to the Covid-19 lockdown.

In the letter, the students also wanted to know if the data will cover all cellular networks or it would only be MTN as apparently mentioned by vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tshilidzi Marwala.

They also asked about the criteria used to distribute the laptops and how are they going to reach students as they were on lockdown.

UJ said devices were given to qualifying National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students from Quintile 1,2 and 3 schools, as well as Sassa beneficiaries.

"Any other need outside the above criteria will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, and we will take the need of each student into account," said the internal document.

"The delivery of devices is handled by courier service companies throughout the country, and our expectation is that the devices should be
delivered by the end of this week.

"However, the courier companies have to navigate challenges such as addresses of students, because of the apartheid spatial planning."

It further clarified that the provision of data and devices would include all students who are currently in SA during the lockdown period. The assistance will exclude students who are outside the borders of SA.

The students also asked UJ what measures the university management would take to ensure that students who are in remote areas, where connectivity was a challenge, would be accommodated.

The university assured it would find a way to help wherever network signal problems were present.

"Students outside the stipulated qualifying criteria will be given devices on a loan basis.

"This will require that students return devices in the good condition that they found them, and those who do not comply with this will be charged a fee. We encourage students who are able to
secure their own devices to continue their own efforts to assist the needy students," the university said.

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