Historical debt and outstanding fees has left many families of students at the University of Pretoria under severe financial strain .
 Picture: Thobile Mathonsi
THE issue of historical debt and outstanding fees has left many families of students at the University of Pretoria under severe financial strain and distress.

It expects students to simultaneously pay 50% of historical debts, registration fees and current fees.

This came out of a mass meeting held at the institution yesterday, convened by the student representative council to address the financial difficulties faced by students.

Students said they were unable to register for the academic year due to the historical debts and outstanding fees, while some are unable to pay the R5700 for residence registration.

BCom general student Dikarabo Kotsokoane, whose parents are pensioners, said she was facing massive challenges; she had not been able to register since the start of the year.

“I could not get funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), and my parents cannot afford to pay the fees. As a result, we live by taking out loans in order to pay the university.”

President of the SRC, David Kabwa, said it had taken steps to work with all student structures, student organisations and management to negotiate a way for the affected students to register and get on with their academic lives.

“On our side, we will collate all student cases that come through our office and put them through to management as well as the student accounts offices, in order to assist students on a case-by-case basis.

“We have a NSFAS administrator for the province of Gauteng, and we are working hand in hand with them for those specific kinds of appeals.

“We are doing our best to fast- track them and ensure that they are processed a lot quicker than they would have been.”

The dire circumstances left students in distress, they said, and some had lost hope in management. They said the challenges they had been facing over the past years had become too much to bear.

Chairperson of the ANC Youth League at the university, Tholi Ngwenya, said year after year they had been facing the same difficulties, but nothing had been done by the university.

“If we do not get a positive response, I think we have to sit down as political formations, and unfortunately, it will put us in a very compromising position where we may have to stop classes until something is done,” she said.

Professor Themba Mosia, student administration and residence representative, accepted the memorandum on behalf of vice-chancellor and principal Professor Tawana Kupe, and promised management would respond next week.