The Wits Students Representative Council (SRC) says it is one of the country’s most “starved” SRCs.
The SRC receives a budget of R700 000, of which R300 000 is allocated among the various clubs and societies.
“This leaves us with an operating budget of approximately R400 000 to serve 30 000 students for the year,” said SRC treasurer Tshepo Ndlovu.
While other universities are allocated budgets reaching as high as R3.1-million at the University of Limpopo, R5-million at Fort Hare and R6.2-million at the University of Venda.
Wits SRC members say they are forced to run their student activities on a very tight budget.
Wits SRC president Morris Masutha says they are restricted from implementing all their planned programmes for the year with most of the budget spent on projects and campaigns.
More than half of the Wits SRC’s annual budget is spent on fresher’s week.
“This year’s activities cost us around R240 000, but we managed to make a profit of R30 000 for the rest of the year,” said Ndlovu.
The Wits SRC also says they don’t receive the same benefits as SRC members at other SA universities.
“At UJ, SRC members receive a monthly stipend and their tuition and their res fees are paid for by the university,” said Ndlovu,
“We only receive cellphone allowances. We still need to pay all our own university expenses”.
Professor Patrick Fitzgerald, deputy vice chancellor: finance and operations said it was a philosophical question whether people should be paid for being on the SRC.
“At another university where I worked, SRC members received significant benefits and rewards in terms of free tuition, residence and meals, as well as various cellphone, travel and other perks – to the extent that some members of the executive were serving their fifth year on the SRC .
“Most of the other SRC members were in their third year of service. Competition to get on the SRC was very fierce – but for the wrong reasons,” said Fitzgerald.
“I would wonder whether this would be the kind of culture and behaviour we would like to cultivate at Wits?”