Students hounded by credit collectors

2016-02-03 06:00

INDEBTED Durban University of Technology (DUT) students are constantly hounded by credit collectors who push these students to cough up thousands.

It is unclear whether the credit collectors receive instructions from the university or from National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). DUT Student Representative Council (SRC) secretary general, Sandile Nene, fears that a lot of students will be blacklisted before they become part of the work force.

“There are students who have credit collectors calling them demanding them to pay back the money. Our concern as the SRC is that students will be blacklisted before they even find employment. That is a crisis because being blacklisted can hinder one from entering the labour market,” said Nene.

He raised this issue at the first meeting between the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande and student leaders.

“The minister assured us that he will contact the relevant universities and tell them they should tell credit collectors to stop hounding NSFAS students.”

Nene said indebted students are also blocked from registration while other students qualifications are withheld by the university. He said there are institutional issues which the SRC can work out with the DUT vice-chancellor, Ahmed Bawa, should they find common ground. On the other hand there are systematic issues that require Nzimande’s intervention.

Nene said the issue has been discussed between the DUT SRC and Bawa who, more than a week ago, announced his resignation from his post.

In his response, the senior director of corporate affairs and spokesperson at DUT, Alan Khan, said: “Student accounts are only handed over to the debt collectors once a student is no longer registered at the university. Furthermore, the debt collectors are not mandated by NSFAS to contact students.”

Nzimande recently met with vice-chancellors of 26 universities and NSFAS representatives to discuss, among other concerns, the issue of 2016 registrations.

“Each institution has payment plans in place for all category students.

“The institutions have also undertaken to address applicants on an individual basis and attempt to offer payment plans,” Nzimande said.

Additional funding of R6.9 billion was accepted by the vice-chancellors. Nzimande stated that qualifying students whose studies will be funded by NSFAS can register without an upfront registration payment.

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