Durban - Several student groups under the Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) rallied together at Durban University of Technology (DUT) on Wednesday to protest against the institution’s demand for registration fees from all students, including those who qualify for free education.
"The president of the country has already announced that education must be free and that the students who qualify for free education must not pay the registration fees," said Doctor Mndebele, deputy secretary of the ANC Youth League (ANCYL).
"Here at DUT, we have been told that every student must pay their registration fee, whether they qualify for free education or not."
Plans to shut down registration
The protest group, which included members from the South African Students Congress (SASCO), Young Communist League (YCL) and ANCYL, planned to shut down the registration process if DUT management did not adjust their registration fee policy.
Sasco secretary Thabo Sukanazo Tsheme said a document released by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) on January 9 was clear about which students should be made to pay registration fees.
"The document of the DHET explains the criteria and categories of students who don't have to pay certain fees."
He added that the registration fee was a considerable burden for students assisted by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
"The fee is R3 600 and that's a lot. Children of working-class parents can’t afford that."
Tsheme said that no student should be excluded from the chance to study because of registration fees.
"We are going to make sure that registration stops for everyone, not just the poor," he said.
"Management must come back and negotiate to make sure that the pronouncement of the president and the DHET is adhered to and implemented at DUT."
DUT spokesperson Noxolo Memela said that the institution did not have its own administrative system for free higher education and that students needed to follow protocol through the NSFAS to avoid paying registration fees.
"In order for prospective and continuing students to study, they need to be cleared by [the] NSFAS and provide evidence to that effect upon registration," said Memela.
"Students without NSFAS funding approval, are requested to pay the minimum amount required when registering."
She added that DUT would refund those whose funding status changed after paying the registration fee.