WITS Junction students on full financial aid cover can breathe a sigh of relief, because the University has agreed to top up their outstanding residence fees.

This follows concerns raised by students, who were told their financial aid would not pay their residence fees and they would have to leave. Financial aid does not cover the residence fees for Wits Junction. However, some students were sent there anyway, either because of a lack of accommodation elsewhere or through administration glitches.  

There were about 20 students, said Busisiwe Mpembe, All Residence Council chairperson (ARC). “Some were calling me regarding residence fees. So I made a couple of calls, to Rob Sharman among others, and they came to the conclusion that it was the fault of the University that these students were sent to Junction, so the University will top up the outstanding amounts.”

She said financial aid policy was not to pay for students staying at Junction because it was too expensive. Mpembe stressed that the financial aid policy was not changing. National Student Financial Aid Scheme students on full bursary cover could not stay at Junction, but could stay at other University residences.

“Sending students to Junction was a mistake made by Junction management. That’s why they decided to rectify it – only for this year though, Mpembe said.

Lindani Mbatha, postgraduate LLB, is one of the affected students. He had complications with his residence application at the beginning of this year and was sent to Wits Junction.

“When I went to the financial aid office they told me they cannot pay because they don’t pay for students who stay at Wits Junction…it’s too expensive.”

Mbatha said he received a bursary from Norton Rose for R25 000, 00, which only covered half of his residence fees. Although he had full financial aid cover, he was told it would not pay the shortfall on his accommodation if he was staying at Junction.

At the time, he told Vuvuzela: “I can’t understand why they don’t want to pay because I don’t want the whole amount, just the difference.”

Mpembe said that any res students who faced problems should first contact the ARC, who would be of assistance.