Sasco will ‘force’ financial aid scheme to help students

2014-09-18 16:40

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The National Student Financial Aid Scheme was “out of order” when it told poor students at the Tshwane University of Technology that there was no funding for fees, the South African Students Congress has said.

Students were protesting at the university for the third time this year, primarily over the financial aid scheme, Sasco said today.

The scheme told students they should pay their fees as there was no funding available.

“We believe that this is out of order as many of the said students will be unable to pay their own fees due to their background,” Sasco said.

Sasco would meet the financial aid scheme to “force” it to deal with students’ problems rather than ignore the matter thinking the problems would disappear.

The protests were happening against the background of the university apparently returning R90 million to the financial aid scheme, stating all poor and deserving students in the institution had been covered, Sasco said.

Meanwhile, a promise of R10 million made by the university’s vice-chancellor Professor Nthabiseng Ogude had failed to materialise.

Comment was not immediately available from the university.

Sasco said it would speed up its call for student funding at its free education march next Thursday.

“We will ensure that we ask the ministry of higher education to answer the question of what happened to the R1 billion that was announced at the beginning of the year as these same challenges are still prevalent.”

Yesterday, the university’s management lifted the suspension of the institution’s student representative council.

Spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said the decision to reverse the suspension of the student leaders from the Pretoria and Ga-Rankuwa campuses came after management received a letter from them in which they said they would call on students to suspend the strike.

“They agreed on the importance of lectures resuming as soon as possible,” De Ruyter said.

The group was suspended at the weekend.

Management and the students council held talks late yesterday. De Ruyter said both parties agreed to denounce violence and confirmed their commitment to ensure the academic programme continued as soon as possible.

“The negotiation process between the parties commenced today,” she said.

“The focus of the negotiations will be to reach long-term sustainable agreements that will prevent future repetitions of such violent protest action.”

Academic activities were disrupted at the institution’s Ga-Rankuwa and Pretoria campuses last week.

Sasco said it would continue to support the legitimate rights of students to protest as a means of having their issues addressed.

“We will not endorse any acts of vandalism by students or security personnel, as this works against the very interests of our students,” Sasco said.

“We call on institutions and the police to exercise restraint and allow students to demonstrate freely.”

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