Registration resumes amid discussions

2020-01-29 06:00

Registration of first-year students at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein campus resumed on Monday (27/01) after it was temporarily suspended on Friday (24/01).

The process was halted abruptly after protest by the student representative council (SRC) and the EFF Student Command.

Both these student bodies demanded that registration be extended to mid-February, citing a number of reasons.

These include students with outstanding fees not being allowed to re-enrol for the 2020 academic year and reports that the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) will not be funding unaccredited off-campus student accommodation.

The NSFAS is a South African government financial aid scheme which helps undergraduate students pay for their tertiary education. It is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training.

Prof. Francis Petersen, rector and vice-chancellor, repeatedly indicated last year that off-campus safety remained a challenge for the university management, stating that the university has no jurisdiction with off-campus student accommodation.

According to Petersen, off-campus students are soft targets for criminals.

He shared these sentiments following the killing of a 23-year-old student in February last year.

Petersen then indicated that, in a concerted effort by the UFS management to tighten security and safety, several off-campus residences were being accredited.

There were about 300 accredited off-campus accommodations by the end of the 2019.

Petersen pointed out the challenge of the application of by-laws and said the university was engaging with the Mangaung Metro Municipality.

Lacea Loader, spokesperson for the UFS, said constant engagements with the Institutional Student Representative Council (ISRC) and the SRC of the Bloemfontein campus have taken place since the beginning of the year regarding matters of concern to students.

“The executive management will continue to do so,” said Loader, adding that the university management was disappointed with disruptions that had led to the suspension of registration at the Bloemfontein campus.

It appears that the university management and the student representatives are in a deadlock over the issues raised.

The SRC issued a statement indicating discussions would continue on Monday (27/01), as expected follo­wing an announcement by the university, while issues raised have not been resolved.

The student organisation furthermore indicated it would lobby with other institutions for support action.

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