Metro

March 12, 2023

South Africa’s varsity students protest high cost of education 

South Africa’s varsity students protest high cost of education 

By Biodun Busari 

Students of the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg in South Africa stormed campus and marched to the Vice Chancellor’s office to protest increasing high cost of studying in the school. 

According to Africa News on Sunday, the aggrieved students shut down the campus in protest, from Wednesday, over the exclusion of students who cannot afford to register for the new academic year and payoff debt. 

They revealed that the cost of studying at a South African university is becoming unbearable for students as it increases every year. 

According to data from financial services group, Old Mutual, university students in South Africa will part with an average of $3,000 in 2023.

One of the student leaders said their demanding that the university does not leave academically deserving students stranded.

Wits University Student Forum Interim Chairperson, Lungile Magagula, said financial exclusion was not a valid reason to bar students from starting the new academic year.

“The problem here is that students are not able to register due to financial reasons. Most students who are unable to register are academically deserving to register but they are unable to because of financial reasons. And that is one of our major demands,” said Magagula.

Last week, students at Wits University were seen sleeping in public places due to delays in securing financial aid for accommodation. 

Onkokame Seepamore, a final year BA Law student expressed concern that financial aid for accommodation continues to be a struggle every year.

“At the current moment, I don’t have funding and I am appealing for financial  aid. For the past years, it was okay but this year it became a struggle because I didn’t have funding at all. I had problems getting accommodation and  registering.” said Seepamore.

Jabulile Mbanjwa, Bachelor of Laws (LLB) student recalled repeatedly applying for bursaries but with no luck.

“I studied a BA Law and I am doing the two postgraduate LLB and because financial aid has defunded the two year and three year stream of LLB I am stuck without funding. I was fortunate to register but I don’t know how I am going to cover my fees and I was not able to get accommodation because I don’t have financial aid,“ said Mbanjwa.

Seven years ago, Fees Must Fall protests erupted on campuses throughout South Africa. Students demanded free and quality tertiary education.

In a similar action to build on the past demonstrations, Magagula said this is the perfect time to put pressure on the government to provide free education.

“It is time for us to consider free education. These are issues that emanate from us not having free education. It is time for the government and universities to work together in order to consider free education“, demanded  Magagula.