KZN Unisa students take to the streets to protest NSFAS exclusions

2020-01-28 21:37
(File, Phumlani Thabethe)

(File, Phumlani Thabethe)

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"We are saying to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and Unisa management: Enough is enough! We want justice," said the secretary of Unisa's Student Representative Council in KwaZulu-Natal, Andile Ndaba.

He was one of dozens of students from Unisa's Pietermaritzburg campus who blockaded Langalibalele Road with burning tyres and garbage, GroundUp reported.

The institution locked its gates but allowed students who were writing exams to enter.

The protesting students are upset that the NSFAS has excluded many from funding because of poor performance. Ndaba said it was not clear what it meant by "poor performance".

"Students were told that a 50% pass rate would allow them to receive financial aid. We have students who got over 50%, but they have been excluded from the NSFAS."

Ndaba said the dispute had caused delays in the registration process.

WATCH | Police disperse protesting Durban Unisa students with rubber bullets, tear gas

"We have new students who are here to register for the first time. There are matriculants who have not registered. Their registration has not been finalised by the NSFAS… Every year it's the same issue.

"Students have suffered enough. We are demanding that the Department of Higher Education takes us seriously. Unisa students must be treated the same as students at other universities in terms of allowances as well as travel allowances."

Nonhle Vidima, a student, said: "I don't know why I have been excluded."

She claimed to have gotten 50%.

GroundUp asked the NSFAS to specifically address the claim that students who got over 50% were being excluded. In response, we received a speech delivered by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande which does not appear to address this issue.

Unisa's communication and marketing manager, Siyabonga Seme, confirmed protests had taken place at the Durban and Pietermaritzburg campuses.

"The student demands have been brought to the attention of management which is seeking an amicable solution to such challenges," he said.

Some Unisa staff are also currently on strike over salaries and no services are available at the KZN Unisa offices. But, said Seme, the university was not closed.

Read more on:    unisa  |  nsfas  |  durban  |  university protests  |  university fees
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