SHOW ME THE MONEY: Wits students can start saving for next year as there is a proposed increase to the upfront payment fee. Photo: Luca Kotton
Witsies are going to have dig deeper into their pockets in 2015 with the proposed upfront payment fee increasing to R10 270.00.
The fee, currently at R9340.00, entails a R930.00 increase which is needed by Wits according to university registrar, Carol Crosley. “The universities costs at the beginning of the year are very high,” she said. Crosley added that the registration fee was needed largely due to the department of higher education only providing a portion of their funding at the beginning of April every year and the rest during the start of September.
The SRC (Student Representative Council), though believes the fee is too high and remains opposed to the proposed increase. Shafee Verachia, SRC president said, “We are in the process of doing extensive modelling to see what the process of that upfront payment purpose is and our opposition is that it is to exorbitant and should remain the same. Relative to our peers the upfront fee payment is ridiculous.”
Two years ago Wits started an Upfront Payment Plan (UPP) for students who couldn’t afford the initial registration fee. The students utilising the UPP would only pay half of the registration fee and would still be able to register, the rest of the registration fees would go on their fee statement and could be paid off during the year.
Students on bursaries would have their registration fees waived if a letter by the donor was received by Wits and would then be expected to pay the full tuition fee by 31 March.
School-leavers entering Wits for the first time could avoid paying the registration fee all together if their Grade 12 results were sufficient to secure a university entrance scholarship, which would cover the registration fee in some cases.
Professor Tawana Kupe, deputy vice-chancellor (finance) of the university, told Wits Vuvuzela that the “university finances are stable but the university does not have the funds to do everything it wants to do.”
Typically the upfront fee payment increases by the agreed percentage fee increase for the following academic year, which needs to go through various structures and be approved by the university council, the higest decision-making body in the university.
by Doreen Zimbizi, Kudzai Mazvarirwofa and Roxanne Joseph.
Newly issued visa regulations from the South African Department of Home Affairs have led to frustration and anger among foreigners, including Witsies, living in the country.
The regulations, issued in June this year, states that any foreign person living in South Africa is not allowed to change the state of their permit here but must do so at the “mission abroad,” i.e. the South African embassy in that person’s home country.
In order to travel back for this permit status changes, the existing permit must have at least 30 days on it. Anyone who overstays on a permit will be declared an ‘undesirable’ and will be blacklisted.
Additionally, while students could previously travel back to their home countries using the proof of application for a study permit, the new regulations sates that anyone who attempts to leave the South African border with this proof, will be in contravention of the act and charged with a spot fine and or blacklisted.
At the end of June, Wits University facilitated a discussion on the new immigration regulations and how they affect the student community. Initiated by the Department of Home Affairs, the forum was attended by representatives from 16 of South Africa’s 23 universities.
Gita Patel, manager of the Wits International Student Office, said the under the new regulations existing students would now renew their permits online while new students will be required to apply in their home countries. A department of Home Affairs official, who refused to be named, said the department is currently facing a backlog in the issuing of permits and as a result students are forced to return to their home countries, sometimes regularly, in order to comply with the regulations.
Babongile Pswarai, a returning master’s student at Wits says she got her study permit for her honour’s degree at UCT (University of Cape Town). After the permit had already expired she had return to Zimbabwe to re-apply before she became an illegal resident. She experienced with the difficulties with the embassy while there.
“The embassy in Zim[babwe] was awful. It’s like the people there don’t even know themselves what they are doing. Either that, or they just don’t want to work.”
Wits University enrols about 2 500 foreign students every year and Patel said the number of outstanding permits fluctuated. She hoped the new system would streamline the process. Patel advised students to plan ahead by applying at least 60 days in advance and to check the progress of their online applications regularly. The process normally takes six to eight weeks.
The exhibition, From Sitting to Selfie, creates a history of the phenomenon of taking ‘selfie’. Photo: Tendai Dube.
The ‘selfie’ has had such an impact on society that the word itself is now part of the dictionary. To capture the history of the phenomenon, the Standard Bank Art Gallery is currently hosting the exhition the From Sitting to Selfie. The exhibition showcases the origins and history of the phenomenon, often seen to be the result of social media and camera phones.
“There is a lot of variety, it covers a long period of time”, said Sue Isaac, gallery administrator. The exhibition showcases 300 years of South African portraits, dating back to the 1617 with two portraits by Cornelis van der Voort, Portrait of a Gentleman and Portrait of a Lady.
The collection is proof that the obsession with one’s image has been around for much longer than Instagram selfies.
Capturing a moment in time is not necessarily external; art was created from a retina image from a visit to the optometrist. Another of metal carved into a skull by laser.
One of the more lighthearted time-stamps is a self-portrait of Mikhael Subotzky by Marc Nicolson after being stung by a bee in 2004.
“It’s like looking at Facebook, I just don’t get it [selfies]”, said Linda Engelbrecht, an art aficionado who visited the gallery. “I can’t imagine why people would want to publish bad photographs of themselves”, she added.
Curator Barbara Freemantle explained that sitting portraits in the past were done to “best capture the essence of another human” while selfies are “a memento or to document the photographer’s own presence at a particular occasion.
“I think it’s just a popular fad at the moment which I think will run its course, maybe not because we are all pretty egotistical, so perhaps it won’t”, said Isaac.
The exhibition ends on September 6 and is held on the corner Simmonds and Frederick street.
Habib was attacked for sharing a photo that he said was from Gaza, when it was actually from Syria, earlier this year. Photo: Twitter
Unverified photos and information often don’t get very far on social media platforms as networks of people around the world are quick to react to and correct any improper use.
This is exactly what Wits vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib realised this past Sunday as one of his tweets, containing an incorrectly attributed photograph, attracted close to 60 responses in less than an hour.
Habib used a picture from the Syrian conflict that was taken in February this year and incorrectly atrributed it to the current conflict in Gaza.
The photo that shows the legs of a corpse sticking out from underneath rubble had been mistakenly used on social media several times in the last few weeks.
“The consequences of Obama’s defense of Israel’s war in Gaza. How could we have allowed him to talk at Madiba’s funeral,” Habib tweeted.
Following the reponses to Habib’s tweet, he apologised and later tweeted, “the photo was copied from an earlier tweet.”
But he remained resolute in his point, tweeting that he “could find another photo to demonstrate this but what would be the point.”
“Let’s deal with the substance -children are dying,” Habib tweeted.
The incident happened at a time when the circulation of false information, and in particular, photos, is occurring more frequently via social media platforms.
But coupled with the ease of sharing information, is the ability to share unverified information which can be damaging.
In the case of Malaysia Airlines flights 17 and 370, a story about a Dutch cyclist who was booked to go on both flights (but at the last minute changed his mind) was widely circulated a week ago.
However, it was soon discovered that there was no proof that 29-year-old Maarten de Jonge ever bought a ticket.
In these instances, fiction becomes fact very quickly as information is taken out of context or passed off as the truth. The impact and consequences of sharing fale information can be dangerous, especially because information can reach more people, in a shorter amount of time.
The Wits Justice Project will host a symposium in light of the signing into law of the Prevention and Combating of Torture of Persons Bill, last year.
Training, sensitization and human rights education on the definitions and penalties associated with torture is crucial at this stage of South Africa’s history.
The objective is to facilitate high-level discussions and reflections on:
a) The first year of the “torture bill”: different perspectives from the authorities, civil society and experts. To include topics on:
- achievements of the first year
- the dissemination and training that is needed, for all actors and officials in the criminal justice system
- awareness raising for the public
- needed policy environment
b) The necessary next steps needed for the ratification of the optional protocol of the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) and implementation of a national preventative mechanism.
When: 28 and 29 August 2014
Venue: Chalsty Centre, Braamfontein Campus West
RSVP by July 1, 2014 to Nooshin Erfani-Ghadimi of the Wits Justice Project on firstname.lastname@example.org.