A provocative tweet sent by Sasco Wits, which claimed that Wits was refusing to allow students on NSFAS bursaries to study next year, caused panic late on Tuesday.
@WitsUniversity is refusing all #NSFAS students to Register for 2015 Year of study.
— Right2Learn (@SASCO_Wits) January 20, 2015
The hashtag #WitsNSFAS trended nationally on Twitter on Tuesday night, and a protest was organised via social media site. The protest is set to take place at 12pm on Wednesday on Wits Main Campus.
“Wits administration is a nightmare,” said Shaeera Kalla, deputy president of the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC).
According to Kalla, about 800 students who applied for funding from NSFAS late last year had not been timeously informed about which documentation they needed in order to apply for funding as a result they had outstanding documentation and their applications have not yet been processed. As a result of this miscommunication between NSFAS and Wits, Kalla said, these students are now in a state of financial uncertainty.
Registration at Wits begins in two weeks.
Kalla said students who have outstanding NSFAS-sponsored fees have been asked to sign an acknowledgement of debt with the university, and must now pay half of the registration fee upfront by the registration date.
The “refusal” that SASCO’s tweet speaks of then refers to the university’s failure to acknowledge that needy students dependant on financial schemes such as NSFAS may not even have the R4,670 required for registration.
“Wits is being exclusive in this way, and from a moral standpoint, this has to then be questioned,” said Kalla.
Sasco member Senzekahle Mbokazi said the situation was out of students’ control.
“We are sitting in a meeting with [Wits management] tomorrow [Wednesday] to ask them, what do they expect students to do about getting this kind of money just like that?” he said.
Times Live on Wednesday quoted Wits SRC president Mcebo Dlamini as saying that students were angry and the university was “provoking [them] to burn down the university”.
But Dlamini told The Daily Vox that his words were twisted and taken out of context. “What I had said was that this is a national issue, and that students will be burning universities (as they did at TUT) on these issues because they are not being properly addressed by the Ministry of Education,” he said.
Asked to comment, Wits vice-chancellor Adam Habib said that this was an NSFAS issue and that there was very little the university could do to help students now facing a funding crisis.
“We don’t have the money. We are trying to accommodate students with the money that we do have,” he said.
NSFAS’ misadministration and miscommunications has had a devastating impact the very students the organisation is meant to aid. Students funded by the NSFAS, blameless in this situation, now bear the consequences of the scheme’s maladministration and inefficiency. Sasco’s inflammatory statements meanwhile simply underline that NSFAS must be sorted out once and for all.
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Source : The Daily Vox