Student fees: Acting public protector to visit institutions over access to tertiary education

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Students protesting at the Wits University. It is reported that the student leaders protested over registration issues.
Students protesting at the Wits University. It is reported that the student leaders protested over registration issues.
Fani Mahunts, Gallo Images
  • Acting public protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, is set to intervene in funding challenges by visiting various institutions of higher learning.
  • Her office says she will engage the management, SRCs and NSFAS, among others interested parties over the next five weeks.
  • On Monday, mass protest action was planned across the country as students from 26 universities aimed to delay the 2021 academic year.

Acting public protector, advocate Kholeka Gcaleka, intends visiting up to six institutions of higher learning as part of an intervention over access to tertiary education.

"We are fully aware of the plight of poor students and the struggles they face at tertiary institutions across the country. In response, we intend to intervene to help alleviate the suffering of current and prospective students to have access to tertiary education," she said.

According to her office, Gcaleka will engage the management, Student Representative Councils (SRC) and National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), among others interested parties over the next five weeks.

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She is expected to visit the Tshwane University of Technology campus in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga; Orbit TVET College in Rustenburg, North West; University of the Free State in Mangaung; King Sabata Dalindyebo TVET College in Mthatha, Eastern Cape; and Unisa in Pretoria.

"In 2020, the office of the Public Protector received eight complainants concerning the NSFAS," Public Protector spokesperson Oupa Segalwe said. "The complaints related to inadequate allowances for study material, non-payment of living allowances and failure to pay for tuition."

Delay

On Monday, mass protest action was planned across the country as students from 26 universities aimed to delay the 2021 academic year over the fees impasse.

There have been growing concerns of financial exclusion raised by SRCs, who are calling for the immediate resignation of Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande."The socio-economic background of many students in the country has a direct bearing on their ability to access tertiary education", said Gcaleka. 

She said two challenges the country faced were the basic social justice issues of inequality and exclusion.

Gcaleka added that there was a need to engage meaningfully with key stakeholders with a view to collectively addressing student challenges and emerge with lasting solutions.

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