Pretoria – Students from the University of Pretoria (Tuks) yesterday marched to the Department of Higher Education and Training to express their frustrations with the funding problem that has led to unrest at Wits University.
SRC president Lerato Ndlovu said: “We have witnessed more than enough incompetence and miscommunication from the department and the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).”
She said this led to more confusion than there should be in the student population in every institution. “The cries get louder, but unfortunately there is little assistance from the department.”
Ndlovu said there was no effective communication from the NSFAS to students.
Part of their demands include the funding of first-year students with no exclusions.
She said many students were in limbo, some due to being de-funded mid-year, a matter the department had to sort out as a matter of urgency. They also called for a speedy processing of appeals for those whose applications were not approved.
The students also wanted the department and NSFAS to be “held accountable for the students who were in debt to the university because they were de-funded mid-year“.
“We have many students who still have not registered. We are getting a lot of complaints about this.”
Nkadimeng Pule, a student, said the department needed to take them seriously. “I hope they hear our plea. On Monday academics are starting, and without food, one will not be able to focus.”
He also lamented the department’s communication and said they were leaving them in the dark.
Another student Pule Mogale said they were pleading with the department to hear their plight and assist.
SRC member Josias Mahube-Reinecke said they hoped their demands would be met.
Another student, Elroy Samuels, said funding for education had to be a major priority for the government. “First years have been traumatised by the pandemic already, writing under pressure and anxiety, and now they face the fact that they are not funded.“
He said it was a slap in the face for those truly in need of assistance to further their studies.
Pearl Makgoba said it was shameful that the youth had to march to plead for funds to study. “I have friends who cannot even register due to this and it is heartbreaking to see how it is emotionally draining to be barred from registering because of debt and doing well academically.”
Deputy director-general in the department Lulama Mbobo said Minister Dr Blade Nzimande would respond to the demands as soon as possible.