No money, more problems

Students are warned! If your fees are not paid by September 15, you will not be allowed to continue your Wits education.

Witsies with outstanding fees will be barred from the university until they settle their accounts. The fees department has sent emails, smses and letters informing students about the repercussions of unpaid fees.

Students who don’t meet the mid-month deadline will be denied access to the university, examination results will be withheld and legal action will be taken against students. The students will also be refused permission to re-register at Wits and will be refused “a certificate of good conduct without which you will be denied admission to any South African university.”

[pullquote]Witsies with outstanding fees will be barred from the university until they settle their accounts[/pullquote] Nthabiseng Molefe, 2nd year LLB student, said she received the warning letter on Monday. Her fees are paid in part by the National Students Financial Aid Scheme of South Africa (NSFAS) and her parents. She said she had signed her loan agreement with NSFAS more than a month ago, but the money did not reflected on her account.

“I went to the fees office and told them it is NSFAS’s fault but they said they can’t help me, I must make a plan,” she said.

Deputy vice chancellor, Prof Tawana Kupe, said blocking student cards was a “traditional technique” used by the university. He said blocked students were not expelled but were warned that they needed to attend to their fees. Wits SRC president Sibulele Mgudlwa said dozens of students had contacted him about these letters.  He called the letters “intimidation” by the university against self-funding students behind on their fees.

Mgudlwa said the SRC would fight back and were prepared to “take to the streets like in 2009”, referring to large student protests against fees that year.

Limpopo “starves” students

EDUCATION students from Limpopo are “starving” due to their allowances not being paid on time by the province’s department of education.

Students have complained that the provincial government has failed to pay them any of the allowances due to them since the beginning of the year. This has resulted in them having no meals or books.

Female Student complaint

[pullquote align=”right”]“They promised us pocket money for food and transport money for our TE [teaching practical] but we have not received that,” she said.[/pullquote] A female third year student, who asked to remain anonymous out of “fear for her future”, said she understood that Limpopo was under administration by the National Treasury, but said they were suffering as a result of this.

“They promised us pocket money for food and transport money for our TE [teaching practical] but we have not received that,” she said.

Teaching practicals are part of the student’s course where they are sent to schools in the Johannesburg area for practical teaching experience.

[pullquote]“Mr Maswangani was very rude and showed lack of respect to the students and had said that ‘money is not a need’ when we asked when are they going to pay for our TE allowance, meals, study material.”[/pullquote]The department’s representative was “rude”

Ignatius Molele, 4th year Education, said a representative from the department, who he identified as “Mr Maswangani”, came to speak to students in April and made promises they said have not been met.

Molele said this “demonstrates the unreliability and the inconsistency in the management system.”

The female student explained that the representative had shown no sympathy for the student’s plight.“The old guy that came to speak to us kept saying we were not performing. When we asked him if we were being punished for that he said no but we must do better,” she added.

Molele said: “Mr Maswangani was very rude and showed lack of respect to the students and had said that ‘money is not a need’ when we asked when are they going to pay for our TE allowance, meals, study material.”

The Limpopo’s response
Wits Vuvuzela contacted Limpopo department of education spokesperson Pat Kgomo for comment. He promised to look into the matter but did not respond by press time.

The female student said not receiving the bursary money could result in the Limpopo students failing their courses.

The university has a rule that states students cannot miss a maximum of two of their teaching practicals. This would result in their exclusion.

We are failing

Molele said the Limpopo bursary students were failing because they did not have the study materials needed for their studies.

The student explained that last year Wits University had helped by loaning them money, but had declined to do so this year as it was too “high risk” to loan money to the Limpopo department of education.

Wits response

Thandi Kente, finance manager at Wits Education campus said Wits had refused to loan the Limpopo students money as they were unsure whether they would have the money returned to them.

Kente said it was important that the students understand the context that the Limpopo department of education is operating under. “This is not merely a matter between my department and theirs.

“The government has hired a private company to look into issues of misadministration that happened there last year for them to report to. They [the Limpopo government] are not in control,” Kente said. According to Kente, students had this information communicated to them last year.

“These are third year and fourth year students we are dealing with. Not first years. I do not know how to explain this any further. I mean it’s even been on TV. They know the situation,” Kente said.

We are not “spoiled or rich”

The students who spoke to Wits Vuvuzela said even though the department was under administration they were not from “spoiled or rich” families that could help with money.

“I don’t have both my parents. I chose education because the bursary said they would take care of us. Now I ask myself if I should rather have gone to look for a job or stayed at home,” the female student said.

Kente explained that the money goes through a long process due to budget allocations from the National Treasury and that it was likely that the money would come in at the end of this week.

The student said the last time they heard from the department was in April and they were “being kept in the dark” about what measures to take to help themselves.

shandu@witsvuvuzela.com