Students on strike as aid dries up

2010-08-17 00:00

YET another strike rattled the Durban University of Technology (DUT) yesterday as students took to the streets over financial exclusion.

An exhausted National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nasfas) is apparently the reason students could find themselves deregistered, with their dreams of a tertiary education in tatters.

The president of the student representative council (SRC) at DUT, Mfanafuthi Ngawe, told The Witness that the university is planning to deregister over 2 000 students who owe money for this year’s tuition.

Ngawe said the students should qualify for financial aid, but have been told by the university that Nasfas is out of money and can’t afford to foot the bill for poor students, who would normally qualify.

“Since July we have been trying to engage the department of Higher Education and Training, Nasfas and DUT management to come up with a plan.”

Ngawe said he believes the students are not only at risk of being robbed of their future, but are being let down by the people who are supposed to have their best interests at heart.

Police said the protest went off without an incident.

Two weeks ago, protests at the Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) over the same issue turned violent. Protesting students claimed they were given until August 6 to settle 50% of all debt owed for this year and at least 40% of all historical debt.

Responding to a Witness query two weeks ago, MUT pointed out that it is running at a deficit of R117 million, R36 million of which is for debt incurred this year alone.

According to the university, this makes the daily operation of the university unmanageable.

MUT management has since invited parents of all students with outstanding debts to a meeting at the university this Saturday.

In a letter sent to parents, they will be discussing payment plans. The university hopes also to impress upon the parents the seriousness of the university’s financial position.

“Parents will be requested to come up with a plan as to how they are going to deal with their debts to the university. Parents will be required to sign debt orders to settle their debts. The deadline for signing the debt order is 25 August 2010 …” the management said.

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