Fighting for Financial Inclusion and Accommodation: Wits Students Protest
Scores of Wits University students have come together to protest against financial exclusion and the lack of accommodation, blocking the main entrance to the campus.
The student representative council (SRC) organized the protest early Wednesday morning to draw attention to their demands.
According to SRC member Karabo Matloga, many students are unable to register due to their outstanding debt, and the university’s “hardship fund” of R50,000 cannot assist those who owe more than R100,000.
Students are also required to pay an upfront fee of R10,000 for access to the university’s accommodation, which many cannot afford.
This leaves them homeless, as NSFAS only caps accommodation costs at R45,000 per annum.
The SRC is hoping for the university to meet their demands listed in a memorandum that was submitted.
The Wits senior executive team has secured 350 beds from accredited private accommodation facilities for those in need, however, the process is slow.
The university is working to appeal NSFAS’ decision to cap accommodation costs, and stated that the amount of funding allocated to students in 2022 was R1.6bn for 26,161 students.
In order to manage the protest, Campus Protection Services were called in and additional security has been brought in.
Wits university is encouraging students and staff to use alternative entrances as the academic programme will continue as scheduled.