Student Debt, A Barrier to Registration 

By Somila Tiwani

As we all prepare to begin another academic year, those with student loans have yet another challenge. A free enrolment concession in 2022, as these students’ last hope, will necessitate considerable changes to the standards. 

These concessions, according to Siyadumisa Vena, the premier of North Campus, stem from the #FeesMustFall movement. “This is a short reprieve, but it isn’t helping us; all academically deserving students shouldn’t be left out; they should all register despite past debts.” Vena claims that they would continue to press the government to forgive all historic debts owed to all institutions. 

Vena, also the head of the SRC for the National Assistance support desk, emphasizes that the SRC is in opposition to the University’s new criteria or MANCO (Management Committee). “The SRC is not a member of the MANCO, and this has to be addressed. It can’t be that the highest decision-making body lacks a student representation; we are the ones who are familiar with student pains, yet we are excluded from those conversations.” 

The SRC has supported unfunded students through provision of food parcels. However, this is not enough for Nomsa Ben (not real name as source wants to be kept anonymous). Ben was affected by the n+2 rule and can’t afford to pay rent for off-campus residence as she was rejected on staying on-campus. “I have tried reaching out to the SRC with no response, I need to go back to campus, so I am able to access lab computers as I have technical issues with my laptop”.  All students who were unable to pay their debts and were turned down by the concession but given the chance to appeal. This procedure will be monitored, the SRC promised this to students. 

Photo credit: ewn.co.za

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