The Student Representative Council (SRC) from the University of Witwatersrand has managed to raise R4 million for students with outstanding fees.
The Minister of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande met with Wits SRC, NSFAS, the South African Union of Students (SAUS) and Universities South Africa (USAf) to discuss the national shutdown.
During the meeting, the portfolio committee welcomed the decision made by Wits to extend its registration date to allow all students to register.
The Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology applauded the SRC for raising funds for students who are unable to register.
“This is a patriotic act by the SRC to ensure that no student is left behind,” said committee chairperson, Philly Mapulane.
“We note and applaud the change in posture of the Wits University management to learn from the disagreements that led to the protracted student protests at the university, and to find a better way of resolving conflict and mediation.
“This is welcomed, as it will go a long way in ensuring that students’ grievances are speedily addressed and compromises are reached without resorting to protests that delay the commencement of the academic programme,” Mapulane said.
Mapulane said government has started the process of profiling those who owe historic debt and how much is owed to universities.
“Historic debt is an albatross on the neck of the universities, and the current student debt is estimated at R14 billion and it is growing. This should concern everyone, and society in general has to come to the party to ensure that the debt is resolved, given the current economic constraints,” Mapulane said.
In an attempt to address student debt, Minister Nzimande has been given the task to present a proposal for students who fall under the "missing middle".
The "missing middle" refers to students who come from households with an annual income between R350 000 and R600 000.
These students do not qualify for NSFAS funding under the current requirements.
“We wish the task team success in advance and look forward to engaging with its work once it is concluded and presented to Cabinet,” said the chairperson.