Wits SRC has created an emergency fund that will assist returning students with historical debt to register for the 2018 academic year.

The Wits SRC (Student Representative Council) has launched the SizofundaNgenkani Emergency Fund that is expected to be implemented in the first week of the 2018 academic year which begins on February 5.

The fund has been set up after the SRC presented a list of demands to the University Council last Thursday, January 25 essentially asking for students with outstanding fees to be allowed to register. An agreement has been reached with the University Council that will help curb the financial exclusion crisis at the institution through the fund.

The fund, which currently stands at R10 million, intends to assist with the payment of historical debt, accommodation, fees and registration for returning students who are unable to register for the 2018 academic year.

Wits Chief Financial Officer, Prakash Desai, told Wits Vuvuzela that, “The University has recognised that the Presidential dispensation on fees did not provide for returning students of poor and working class families having household incomes between R122 000 and R350 000.” Desai said that funding for SizofundaNgenkani was sourced from re-directed funds that were made available by the University.

The fund is expected to assist returning students who were initially required to pay 50% of their outstanding debt before being allowed to  register. In order to be considered for funding, students must provide proof of household income and to meet minimum academic requirements.

SRC spokesperson, Sandla Mtotywa, told Wits Vuvuzela, “We’ll have an application process but we will still send the communique about where will you apply and how to apply.We will need documents like household income, and  will check your academics.”

Mtotywa added that, “The most important thing is to get you [student] in the system. We’re also looking at topping-up for residence fees if you’re on NSFAS and you cannot pay your top-ups.”

A committee consisting of the Dean of Students, members of the SRC, the Financial Manager and the University Registrar will be set up to administrate the emergency fund.