The SRC held a meeting for international students on West campus yesterday. Wits’ international community expressed their grievances about paying seven and a half times more to apply to Wits and highlighted the issues of finding a place to live before the beginning of the academic year due to the registration system. A memorandum will be drawn up and given to the vice chancellor later next week.
International students have accused Wits of treating them unfairly by forcing them to pay most of their fees upfront and charging them an application fee 750% higher than that of South African students.
The students aired their grievances at a meeting held by the SRC which accused Wits of “institutionalised xenophobia”. The meeting, chaired by the SRC’s international students officer, Tanya Otto, encouraged international students to voice their concerns in light of recent xenophobic events.
“Our problems are not monolithic,” said Gwinyai Aubrey, the SRC’s strategic planning officer and himself an international student.
One issue singled out by international students said the application process needed to be reviewed and highlighted fees as a big issue.
International students are required to pay an application fee of R750 and a 75% upfront tuition fee, as opposed to a R100 application fee and 25% upfront tuition fee for local students.
“The university may not deliberately do this, but [it] does exclude some of the best minds in Africa from applying,” said one international student.
International students said the online registration only for South African students was a major problem as many of them study on scholarships from their governments and do not have funding to live off campus before lectures begin.
“It makes no sense to make us come and register in the middle of January when lectures only begin in February,” an international student said.
“Where am I to live for almost a month and who will pay for that?” she added.
Delayed financial aid and a lack of cohesion between local and international students were also highlighted as some of their major concerns.
The SRC has undertaken the task to draft a memorandum which will be given to the vice chancellor, Prof Adam Habib next Thursday.