Wits sets aside R30m to assist its defunded students

Some students will not face defunding in this year's academic year. Picture: Wits website

Some students will not face defunding in this year's academic year. Picture: Wits website

Published Feb 22, 2024


As the academic year kick started last Monday, a multitude of South African students face financial exclusion for the 2024 academic year.

Last year, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) announced over 40 000 tertiary students will be defunded for this year’s academic year, while many owe universities, student accommodation and are trying to secure enough money to register for the new academic year.

To tackle financial exclusion of students, Wits University has set aside an estimated R30 million to help financially challenged students to register for the new academic year, via the Wits Hardship Fund.

The fund is for Wits students who owe more than R10 000 in order to secure space for the academic year.

However, not everyone qualifies for the fund. Requirements include: the fund only pays 50% of a student’s outstanding balance of the previous year, this is up to R50.000; 50% average mark of the previous year, a household of not more than R600 000 annual income; student accommodation should be 30km further from campus will be considered, student accommodation must be recognised by Wits and; non-degree courses don’t apply – diplomas and certificates.

Student Hardship spokesperson Shirona Patel, told ‘EyeWitness News’ (EWN) the fund’s purpose is to include financially challenged students to access quality education. “We received a total of 1 037 applications and about 700 of those have been approved. The university has also started a discretionary fund, and this is where we try to match up donors with students who require funding,” she said.

Financial exclusion has led many undergraduates to source alternative ways and register for the academic year, in particular, the use of social media – TikTok and X.

Kabelo Mokgapa's student debt was paid off by X users earlier this month. Picture: (screenshot)

Earlier this month, Kabelo Mokgopa’s student debt had been paid off by X users, each user contributed R10. Although, on the other side of the country, Eastern Cape Buffalo City TVET College students resorted to violent protests, alleging the institution is misusing students’ NSFAS accommodation funds, by allocating low-quality accommodation for them. The students believe management is pocketing these funds.

The Star

Hope Mafu

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