Witsies face uncertain future without NSFAS

Prospective journalists, doctors and accountants are among some of the Witsies who might see their dreams deferred for lack of  funding from NSFAS.

Witsie Anelisa Tuswa told Wits Vuvuzela that she was accepted into Journalism Honours at the university but may not be able to take up her place because her NSFAS application is still pending.

Tuswa has been on financial aid since her first year and receiving funding had never been a problem before.

“My mom is a domestic worker who works only three days a week and NSFAS have never been hesitant to accept me. They always gave me the full package – accommodation, food and tuition.”

Tuswa has no other funding options and if “NSFAS doesn’t fix this” she will not be able to continue her studies.

Wits Vuvuzela spoke with Marvin Mhlanga, a third year BCom Accounting student, who applied last year for NSFAS 2015 but has not yet received an outcome on his financial aid request.

“Scholarships grant me funding and some study loans require someone to pay monthly or someone to pay a certain amount monthly and my single mother can’t afford that,” Mhlanga said.

Mhlanga added  that he fears he won’t be able to “raise the money needed to pay for the registration fee”.

“Some study loans require someone to pay a certain amount monthly and my single mother can’t afford that.”

A fifth year medical student who wished to remain anonymous said he could not return to his classes because his NSFAS funding had not come through .

“Medical School started on January 5. I could not return because I was unable to register,” he said. “I don’t have the money to pay the registration fees. How am I supposed to continue?”

A second issue facing NSFSA applicants at Wits is loss of documents.

Vice-Chancellor of Academics Prof Andrew Crouch partially blamed last years postal strike for missing documents.

“Some students sent in their NSFAS applications by post and due to the strike we were unable to receive them. Some applications have only been received now months after they were sent to Wits,” he said.

Wits LLB student Andile Mbhele applied for NSFAS funding at Wits to continue his degree in 2015. Mbhele said he had not heard back from Wits and when he called them on Monday the university said “the document was missing”.

“When I asked them if I could resend the missing document, they told me it was too late,” he said. “How am I going to finish my degree with no funding?”

Mbhele said that NSFAS is his “last option” to continue his studies at Wits.

“All my hopes are with NSFAS,” he said





WITS CDP to help new universities

TWO new universities in Nelspruit and Kimberley, which will open their doors next year, will get a helping hand from Wits University in planning their infrastructures and academic programmes.

The department of higher education and training (DHET) has approached Wits Campus Development and Planning (CDP) to help with project management for the University of Mpumalanga and the Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape.

“We will be developing capacity and project managing the infrastructure and the academic programmes to empower the new universities until they can take over the programme,” said Emannuel Prinsloo, director of CDP.

“It’s a fascinating challenge. There is no book on the shelf  called ‘How to build universities for dummies’.

The Wits CDP will put together a team of specialists to implement the academic programmes and to develop the institutional capacity needed. Prinsloo said the DHET approached Wits CDP because they were happy with their progress and delivery of their projects.

[pullquote align=”right”]“They need time to settle, to find their niche.” [/pullquote]

Wits CDP would not physically manage the construction of the two new universities, as the CDP still had its own work to complete at Wits, said Prinsloo. The two universities would not be funded or cross-subsidised by Wits or other universities.

Architectural design competitions for the buildings have been launched. Designs would be judged on the amount of green building implementation.

“It’s about orientating the building for its affordability and sustainability.”

He said the University of Mpumalanga would be built on a “greenfield site”, which meant there were no existing buildings

 on the site.

New buildings would be constructed for the Sol Plaatje University in Kimberley. Urban renewal would also take place, which meant old and derelict buildings would be renovated.

The new universities would have more residences than was currently the norm at universities. While plans for the construction of the new universities are in full swing, the universities will need a little longer to reach the level of established universities.

Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof Andrew Crouch said it would take some time for the two universities to reach the same level of excellence of older, established universities, unless they had unlimited resources. Crouch said it normally took fi ve to 10 years for a university to become properly established, both in infrastructure and academics.

“Any new university is like a child that grows up, it’s not an adult overnight,” said Crouch. “They need time to settle, to find

their niche.”


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