Home Affairs, varsities make provisions for foreign students

2015-10-29 15:32
(Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

(Elizabeth Sejake, City Press)

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Durban – The government and top tier South African universities have made provisions for time-constrained international students as exam dates were pushed back due to the #FeesMustFall campaign.  

Following the campaign that saw thousands of higher education students take to the streets demanding 0% increase in tuition fees for 2016, a number of university exam dates had to be pushed back.

Foreign national students were likely to suffer the most, with visas expected to expire before many students could sit for exams.

One such student is Iyare Uwumagbe, who is studying for his masters in physiotherapy at Wits University. Uwumagbe, a Nigerian national, said while his visa had not expired, his personal monetary woes were eating at his resources.

"I was meant to leave the country on Saturday, but I have had to reschedule my flights, which cost me thousands. There are also other issues, like my accommodation and the need for more food and transport," he said.

Esther Buabeng-Baidoo, a chemical engineering masters candidate, said while she understood and supported #FeesMustFall, her studies were affected.

"I might only be able to graduate in April next year. The plan was for December, but I was not able to hand in my thesis because of the disruptions. I have to say though, I support the campaign. It is for a great cause and will help all students," she said.

Visas based on study duration

Department of home affairs spokesperson, Thabo Mokgola, said the government, working within its powers, ensured students would be permitted to stay in the country because they were given visas based on the duration of their studies.

"This means that if you are studying for four years, you will be given a visa for that period of time, plus an additional year. This is how our study visas work," Mokgola said.

A number of universities throughout the country have attempted to make provisions for foreign students, including the University of Cape Town and Wits University.

Speaking to News24, Wits spokesperson Shirona Patel said in terms of their campus accommodations and the student services offered, students would be catered for. "Regarding other issues that are beyond us, there is not much we can do.”

UCT spokesperson Pat Lucas added that as a consequence of the university’s closure this week and the #FeesMustFall campaign, the vice-chancellor had postponed the set of examinations due to start on Tuesday.

"The October/November exam session will therefore not start next week. New dates for the start of the exam session will be set in consultation with staff and students.

"Where a departmentally arranged exam was to have been held at an earlier date, arrangements will be made for those who did not arrive for such exams to write/take the exam at a later date.

"The International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO) is aware that some students may not be in the country at the time that the exams will be set. For this reason, additional arrangements have been made for them."

Read more on:    uct  |  wits university  |  home affairs  |  johannesburg  |  cape town  |  university fees

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