Cape Town - Students are demanding that institutions of higher learning and accommodation managers adjust fees, especially residence fees, because they have been left paying for properties they no longer occupy after classes were moved online amid Covid-19 fears.
Bamanye Matiwane, president of the SA Students Congress said, their national executive committee, which convened early this month, diagnosed the state of student accommodation.
“We do this fully cognisant that the majority of our students are at home, yet are being demanded to pay rent for the residences they currently do not occupy, fully cognisant of the fact that not much has changed and that student accommodation remain unreasonably expensive and unsafe in most parts of our cities,” Matiwane said.
EFF Student Command branch chairperson at UCT, Ntokozo Mahlangu, said the student council had an engagement with the university executive and council with regards to the fee readjustments.
Mahlangu said part of the demands were to readjust residence fees, so that students only get charged for the duration that they were in residences.
“The university council accepted and approved our demand, we are expecting the fee adjustments to reflect on the system by month end as promised by the university.”
UCT spokesperson, Elijah Moholola, said in their meeting on June 20, the UCT Council agreed that students would only be billed for the number of days in residence.
Moholola said students who left the university already had their accounts adjusted. Students who were invited back to campus, and had already taken up their places in residences, would have their accounts adjusted by the end of the month.
“Payment for all outstanding residence fees should please be made on or before October 30,” he said.
Ndumiso Davidson, the chief executive of South Point, a privately owned residence which accommodates CPUT students, said they have a lease with the Cape Peninsula University of Technology and not with students.
He then directed queries to the university.
CPUT’s spokesperson, Lauren Kansley, said the university did not adjust its fees, while face-to-face learning largely ceased, it was important to note that the institutional expenses remained the same.
Kansley said learning continued (albeit in a different form).
“Students who may be experiencing payment difficulties may always approach the student finance department and negotiate a restructure of their fee payment schedule,” she said.