| PIETERMARITZBURG

UNISA’s campuses in KZN shut down

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Students complain about exam dates and allowances

Photo of UNISA building
Protesting students shut down the UNISA campus in Pietermaritzburg. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane
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“Our campuses will not function until our demands are met,” says Andile Ndaba, secretary of the Students’ Representative Council at UNISA in KwaZulu-Natal.

UNISA campuses in the province were shut down on Monday with students blockading the Pietermaritzburg campus in Langalibalele Street. No student was allowed to enter the campus and those who were inside were told to leave. The students were dispersed by police.

They submitted their memorandum to the campus manager.

Ndaba said students are not happy about many issues including problems with payment of student allowances by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and a change in exam dates from May to April because of the elections in May. There have been protests on several campuses over NSFAS payments.

“No one will be ready to write exams in April,” said Ndaba. “They should allow us to write in May or June. We have raised the matter with the management.”

He said some students had not received their allowances in the first semester.

“Students were promised laptops. They haven’t received those laptops. Some students have not been able to buy books. They can’t start their assignments because they have no books. There are students who were rejected by NSFAS. We had a mass meeting and we decided that we are going to the streets,” Ndaba said.

Nonhle Buthelezi from Msinga was one of the students who joined the protest. She said she has not been paid her allowance. Buthelezi is a second year student.

“I haven’t been able to buy books. Last year we were fighting for the same thing. The university is not telling us where the problem is. All of us are coming from far places. We are not comedians trying to get fame. We are protesting because it is beyond our control. The right to education is for every student in this country,” said Buthelezi.

NSFAS spokesperson Kagisho Mamabolo said applications for funding could be rejected for a number of reasons, including students exceeding the permitted number of years of study, submitting incorrect academic results, or failing to meet academic performance requirements.

Students could appeal and the appeal period for students who had applied for 2019 funding before 2 December 2019 was still open.

An appeal form could be downloaded from the NSFAS website, www.nsfas.org.za. Appeals from first year students should be submitted directly to NSFAS, while returning students should approach the financial aid office of the university, he said.

UNISA’s KZN communication and marketing manager Siyabonga Seme said the university was aware of the issues raised by the students. “The memorandum of demands has been received and forwarded to the relevant management offices in the region and in Pretoria for further action,” said Seme.

“The campuses will remain shut down until the students’ demands are attended to,” said Ndaba.

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TOPICS:  Tertiary Education

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