'We didn't turn our backs on students' – University of Limpopo on allegations of turning away students

University of Limpopo logo. (Supplied)
University of Limpopo logo. (Supplied)

The University of Limpopo has vehemently denied allegations that it turned away hundreds of students who descended on the institution seeking admission.

Deputy vice-chancellor in charge of teaching and learning Professor Richard Madadzhe told News24 during a visit on Monday that many students turned up without having applied but their particulars were recorded in case space become available for those who qualify.

He said the university – situated in Mankweng outside Polokwane – had received 65 000 applications from first-entry students for 2019. However, the institution can only accommodate 4 750.

The EFF in Limpopo accused the university of not having a clear plan for registration and walk-in applications. The party claimed hundreds of students were turned away.

"Potential students who came for registration at the university were turned back promising them that they will receive the SMSes, but this never happened. The University of Venda experienced similar challenges," the party alleged.

But Madadzhe explained: "Those allegations are not factual. What happened is that many students came here without having applied. As you are aware, matriculants performed well in 2018, and many of them who did not apply just came here as walk-ins.

"So, we could not attend to them because we first have to attend to those who have applied, which is only fair."

He said walk-in applications would only be attended to from January 17, 2019.

Registration fee deal

However, some students complained that they had applied online but their names were not on the list of applicants.

Madadzhe dismissed that possibility and expressed confidence in the institution's online system. He said a private service provider was contracted to manage the online applications.

"We received 55 000 applications via online and 10 000 applications were submitted manually," he said.

Technical and vocational education and training colleges across the province have also experienced a large number of walk-in applications for limited space.

The University of Venda also had to place a large number of walk-in applications on hold as it had to first register the first-entry students who applied on time.

In a move to avoid the problems which led to violent protest at the start of 2018, the university's management and the student representative council agreed that National Student Financial Aid Scheme-funded students could register without making an upfront payment.

They further agreed that all other undergraduate students, including the missing middle/self-funded students, can also register without upfront payment. However, they first have to sign an acknowledgement of debt. 

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