Wits says students cut from NSFAS for failing multiple times want free accommodation
Johannesburg - Wits believes it might have to change it's policy and align it with NSFAS' following a protest by students whose funding was cut for failing multiple times.
NSFAS stopped funding the students as they failed their studies two years in a row, leaving those who still want to study without money for tuition and accommodation.
According to the institution's Shirona Patel, while NSFAS only gives students two chances, Wits gives them three hence they allowed them to register and then sign an acknowledgement of debt.
However, they have nowhere to stay and are asking Wits to give them free education as NSFAS won't pay for it, she said.
"We need to look at our rules so that they are in line with NSFAS. These students want to stay in campus for free but our beds are full and preference is given to students who are passing. Many of these students have failed multiple times and have thus lost their funding and accommodation for 2020.
Some of the protesting Wits students seen here trying to forcefully storm one of the buildings. Video: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
"Wits made available R17-million via the Wits Hardship Fund to assist those students who are passing and who genuinely require temporary accommodation and support. This was done in conjunction with the Wits SRC a few weeks ago," Patel said.
The students allegedly asked for assistance from the Gauteng Provincial government but did not get any hence they decided to return to the university and protest.
Protesting Wits students disrupting classes. Video: Bhekikhaya Mabaso
Patel said as they have allowed the students to register, they were doing everything in their power to help them with accommodation. However, they don't have the funds to pay it.
She said preference was being given to those that presented valid reason for failing such as death in the family or mental health challenges.
She also said while private donors are always willing to assist students with tuition, they did not help with accommodation.
"There is private accommodation but the students don't have money to pay for it. We are working with private accommodation providers to see what we can do," she said.
In an interview with Radio 702, Wits Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Habib said the majority of those protesting had lost NSFAS funding for failing multiple times and now want the university to pay for their accommodation it which was not fair.