The Select Committee on Education and Technology, Sports, Arts and Culture has raised concerns about the rough start at many universities regarding registration and accommodation challenges.
The Committee chairperson Elleck Nchabeleng said they were concerned that some institutions were unable to have a smooth start to the academic year as a result of registration challenges. He said the protests were “concerning and confusing” because government had undertaken to pay for poor students.
“The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) students should not be experiencing the challenges that are raised at a number of institutions already regarding registration fees,” he said.
Nchabeleng said the issue, which the committee was aware of, is the funding of the missing middle, whom the government is in the process of accommodating through policy interventions.
Disruptive protests have already been reported at a number of universities, including the University of Cape Town, Sol Plaatje University, Nelson Mandela University and most recently, the University of the Witwatersrand.
Nchabeleng said the Department of Higher Education and Innovation and the NSFAS needed to speedily intervene in these matters, especially the missing middle students.
“If the registration matter needs to be elevated to organisations like Universities SA, that should be done. We do not need further disruptions, and if that means entering into payment arrangements with the affected students, that should be done,” Nchabeleng said.
He further called on universities to “leave no stone unturned” in trying to find solutions to accommodation challenges.
“This work is going to require both innovation and commitment to accommodate students closer to campuses. The backlog is serious and will require time to successfully resolve,” he added.