WATCH: 1st day at Varsity - students vow to work hard but warn of looming protests

By Drum Digital
06 February 2017

It was the first day of the new school year for many tertiary education students across the country today. Drum spent time with students at The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg to gauge their mood.

By Koketso Ratsatsi & Ayanda Sitole

The atmosphere was relaxed as students strolled from one lecture to another and caught up with new and old friends.

Those that DRUM spoke to say the registration process was challenging, with registration fees set at R9 000.

Some faced the challenge of paying outstanding fees from the previous years, while others said they had to hustle to pay for registration.

Lebo Mokgosi, a second year Bachelor of Science student, said she had to work hard over the holidays to save money for registration, while others said they had to take out a loan.

Lesego Ditlane, a third year Bachelor of Commerce student, says she is a self-funded student and struggled to get a bursary to pay for her studies because she is part of what is known as the “missing middle”.

“My parents have to pay my tuition, but it’s still expensive,” she says. “I have been in debt since first year and my debt is accumulating interest. My concern is that I won’t be able to graduate next year.”

Cyril Mashigo, also a third-year Bachelor of Commerce student, says he was not expecting the first day of university to be so intense.

“I thought we were going to have introductory lectures and chill most of the time, but we got straight into the curriculum. It was a lot of work on the first day,” he says.

Ditlane says she was also overwhelmed by the amount of work that was done in the first day.

“I think the university has a strategy to cover the difficult material first, because we all know that #FeesMustFall protests will take place again in the second semester,” she says.

The Commission of Inquiry into the feasibility of free Higher Education resumed its public hearings in Centurion today, and much is expected to ensure that university students do not start protest action again.

Of the students that Drum spoke to, many said they were committed to working hard this year. However, if a solution is not found on how government will fund free education, they will protest again.

WATCH: Here’s what students had to say

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