Sol Plaatje University Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Yunus Ballim. Picture: Danie van der Lith
Kimberley - Walk-ins will be allowed at Kimberley’s Sol Plaatje University (SPU).

University Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Yunus Ballim, confirmed on Tuesday that SPU had always allowed walk-ins and would continue to do so.

“While we prefer and encourage potential students to apply in good time, we are sensitive to the range of reasons that cause applicants not to apply on time. The only disadvantage that late applicants experience is that they are considered after the regular applicants and then only if seat-space is available,” said Ballim.

Ballim pointed out that this year the university had the added benefit of being able to refer late applicants (walk-in or remote), who did not meet the academic requirements for admission or where there was no seat-space available, to the Department of Higher Education and Training’s CACH facility

Universities South Africa (USAF) stated on Tuesday that while all higher learning institutions in the country would allow walk-ins and late applications by prospective students, there was a better option available than queuing in the sun.

The organisation representing universities in South Africa met with the Department of Higher Education at the beginning of the week to discuss strategies on how to curb potential chaos for the 2018 academic year.

Read: #FreeEducation: Varsities stick to their guns on walk-in applications

Professor Ahmed Bawa, USAF’s chief executive officer, said “the phenomenon of walk-ins is not new”, adding that there was therefore already a system in place for late applications.

“Universities will advise students on a working system they can use to get entry.”

However, he also noted: “We have the national centre for late applications, a reliable system that will ensure that students are matched to available spaces.

“It’s the right route to take and we urge students to use it. Students must understand that all of this is so they don’t stand in long queues in the sun.”

In response to the mounting pressure for institutions to allow walk-ins and admit late applicants, USAF said that all “universities will allow late applications and walk-ins if space is available”.

Universities will, however, not be adjusting their set enrolment target.

Also read: Universities on high alert for walk-in students

“They cannot change the number of students they intended to enrol as there are factors (affecting) that. Firstly, how many students the university enrols depends on its level of infrastructure. Secondly, they must consider their subsidy money,” said Bawa.

SPU’s Prof Ballim stated on Tuesday that the local institution was currently in the phase of processing applications, making offers to successful applicants, responding to those not successful, etc.

“Formal registrations will start in the last week of January and lectures are planned to start early in February.”

He added that since the release of the National Senior Certificate results on Friday, the university had the expected levels of enquiries about applications or requests for late applications.

“Our staff in the Registrar’s office are managing this comfortably and we have not had unreasonable queues or waiting times for applicants.”

He confirmed further that the university had not had any formal engagements with local or national political organisations regarding registrations.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) meanwhile on Tuesday called on the government, institutions of higher learning and students to work “collaboratively” to ensure that eligible poor students were accommodated and the registration process was peaceful.

“Recalling several incidents that have taken place in the past, which resulted in violence, disruption of academic programmes, the destruction of property and intimidation of persons across a number of university campuses, the Commission wishes to highlight the importance of resolving disputes through peaceful means,” the commission said in a statement.

“The Commission therefore urges all parties to work collaboratively to ensure that all poor students are accommodated and that the registration processes across all campuses take place in an inclusive and peaceful manner.”

It further urged government to provide clarity on the implementation of the announced decision to provide free higher education as soon as possible to remove the “prevailing uncertainty”.

“The Commission has observed increasing tensions amongst several stakeholders in light of the current registration processes under way. It must be noted that the decision on free higher education does not increase the number of spaces that each institution of higher learning can afford to avail to students.

“Those institutions should therefore not be compelled, directly or indirectly, to admit more students than the number of learning spaces that each of them can make available to students.

“Overcrowding and stretching resources available at these institutions can have a negative impact on the very right of access to higher education that the country is trying to give poor students access to.”

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