Students at Wits University have taken to the streets to protest over accommodation and financial exclusion. NSFAS spokesperson reacts to the protest at Wits University and provides a breakdown of how funds are allocated.
University of Witwatersrand (Wits) students have begun protesting about issues concerning accommodation and financial exclusion. One of the complaints from the Wits Student Representative Council (SRC) has to do with allocations for student accommodation.
Students who receive the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) bursary stated that the bursary provides a maximum amount of R45 000 towards accommodation. Which they believe is not enough as the cheapest accommodation is around R65 000 for the year.
The NSFAS spokesperson, Slumezi Skosana, stated that NSFAS provides students who live in university-managed and catered accommodation with around R60 000 to R90 000. However, those who live in university-managed but not catered accommodation and private accommodation will receive a maximum of R45 000.
Skosana stated that NSFAS has done research and found that there are a number of accredited accommodation options which provide residence to students for R45 000. NSFAS will provide students at all universities with a list of accommodation establishments which can accommodate the R45 000 cap.
The NSFAS spokesperson stated that NSFAS took a look at their records, which revealed that NSFAS paid an upfront payment to Wits University on the 31st of January 2023. The upfront payment was made to allow students to register for the academic year without paying any registration fee.
The amount also covered allowances which were supposed to be paid to students to cover the cost of food, travelling and/or learning materials. NSFAS stated that they do not know why the allowances have not been allocated to students. Students have also complained about the amount of the allowances and believe that it does not keep up with the rising cost of living.
The SRC has requested for the allowance amount to be increased so that it can meet the needs of students.
Unfortunately, the allowance amount cannot be increased immediately because NSFAS relies on state funds to provide these allowances, which is not bottomless. Students are, therefore, urged to use their allowances wisely.