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College students protest over funding

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The students are demanding a centralised NSFAS office on campus, instead of having to use apps to communicate with the scheme

FRUSTRATED Northern Cape Urban TVET College students took to the streets yesterday and blockaded the entrance of the Phatsimang Campus with burning tyres and demanded answers about the delay in National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding.

This follows after several students were evicted from their accommodation after they failed to pay rent for over two months.

The students are demanding a centralised NSFAS office on campus, instead of having to use apps to communicate with the scheme.

According to the students, their landlords do not believe them that they have not received their funding, which was approved last month already.

The students said that they have also run out of money for food and transport. They say that they have been left destitute.

“This is the reason why students get involved in prostitution and theft resulting in criminal records.”

They are concerned that even their parents do not believe that they have not received the money.

The students yesterday also slammed the student representative council (SRC), who are accused of giving them contradicting reasons as to why they have not received the money.

According to the students, one of the reasons given to them was that their funds were delayed by nine incomplete applications.

“We no longer want to engage the SRC and we do not want them to speak on our behalf because they are favouring management. We do not want to speak to management either and want a representative from NSFAS to come and address us,” the students said.

The students claim that they are targeted by management after their pictures are taken during protests.

The students further expressed concern that they are expected to have an 80% attendance record under very stressful conditions and with “empty stomachs”.

“Why do we always have to protest for our concerns to be taken seriously? Management continues to fail us on serious matters. All we want is valid answers in order to get direction,” said a student.

Another student, who is from a rural area, said that her grandmother had made an affidavit in order to plead her case about having difficulty in paying for accommodation due to the NSFAS delay.

“If I continue asking her to share her pension with me for accommodation and food she might order me to go back home.

“My concern is that we will soon start with tests, and then we will have to travel home for the holidays. And we do not even have money to travel home.”

She added that she received notification early in January that her application for NSFAS funding was approved but nothing happened after that.

The Northern Cape Urban TVET College management did not comment on the matter as the college principal, Elizabeth Musi, said that she is travelling. She said there is no one else who can comment except her.