The list: what’s happening in other South African universities
This is how students and institutions approach issues related to funding and enrollment.
Protests at the University of the Witwatersrand came to a head when one person was shot and killed outside the Braamfontein campus of the University of the Witwatersrand.
Wits students have been protesting since early March for a number of reasons. Among their demands are access to technology to facilitate distance learning and financial exclusion. The students have asked the university to allow academically deserving students to enroll for the year even if they have an outstanding balance in their student account.
The protests in Wits came amid the announcement by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) may not be able to fund freshmen. Nzimande said the funding body is facing a deficit and may not be able to perform its functions. Cabinet will meet to make a decision on this. However, the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, had already announced numerous cuts in public spending during the 2021 budget speech.
Nzimande also announced that the department will extend the enrollment period for first-year students until the end of March. This is while the cabinet makes the funding decision. But here’s how other universities and students are dealing with the problem.
University of Cape Town (UCT)
The UCT Student Representative Council (SRC) has also formulated a set of demands. All students should be allowed to enroll and all student debts should be cleared. They also want the UCT board to pressure the government to fund all students. The SRC called on Blade Nzimande to resign from his post.
University of Pretoria (UP)
UP said it has taken note of the concerns of students, especially those who are still waiting for NSFAS to approve their applications. The university has extended the enrollment period to March 31 and has committed that students will be able to enroll until the NSFAS issues are resolved. Almost 7,000 of the roughly 9,000 first-year provisionally accepted students have already registered.
For students who owe the university money for previous years, the amount payable before enrollment has been reduced from 50% to 40% of the outstanding balance. These students are required to make a financial arrangement for the remainder of the outstanding balance.
University of South Africa
At UNISA, Nzimande entrusted the university reduce the number of first year students this year. Students from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) sued the minister over the decision. the students said they would close campuses if the court does not overturn Nzimande’s decision. UNISA was also called before the Higher Education and Training Portfolio Committee to explain why it was over-staffed and who was responsible. [UPDATE OF OF MARCH 11] The court ruled in favor of the EFFSC annul the decision by the department to order UNISA to reduce the number of first year students.
UNISA also said it was working to finalize the necessary arrangements for the extension of the registration deadline.
University of the Western Cape
At UWC, management announced that they had financially authorized all students to enroll for the 2021 academic year. In a letter to the students, they said no students would be barred from enrolling. to study due to unpaid fees. The university said the registration fee would be added to the student’s tuition account and the upfront payment would be removed, allowing for immediate enrollment.
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) has not released any statements regarding funding and its impact on NSFAS dependent students. The NSFAS must state the directive and then disclose it to the various campuses.
Stellenbosch University SRC has not yet released any statements. Sol Plaatje University (SPU) has extended its enrollment until March 12, 2021 but has also made no statement on funding.
The Free State University (UFS) has extended enrollment until March 19, 2021, without any specific word on funding either. Nelson Mandela University (NMU) has extended enrollment until April 5, 2021, and no statement on funding.
University of Limpopo
The University of Limpopo (UL), University of Fort Hare, University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN), Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) have not released any funding statements and are continuing to enroll in line.
Registrations at Durban University of Technology (DUT) and University of Mpumalanga are closed. Registration for the University of Zululand is closed for first-time students and is still open to returning and postgraduate students until March 12, 2021. The University of Venda has issued a statement indicating that all students who meet all the requirements of the NSFAS be funded.
Central University of Technology (CUT) suspended its academic activities until March 12, 2021 in light of “sporadic demonstrations” by students.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available.
Reporting by Ling Shepherd and Fatima Moosa.
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