Home South African Call to halt academic and financial exclusions of varsity students

Call to halt academic and financial exclusions of varsity students

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Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said there was no doubt that 2020 had been the most difficult year in the history of higher education in the country

File picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)

EDUCATION activists and student unions have called on universities to halt academic and financial exclusions of students.

Education activist Hendrick Makaneta said there was no doubt that 2020 had been the most difficult year in the history of higher education in the country.

“The fact that students studied under conditions of Covid-19 was itself a demonstration of commitment and resilience on the part of students,” said Makaneta.

“We must admit that the lives of South Africans – including the academic programme of students – have been distressing. Therefore, for universities to apply academic and financial exclusions at this difficult time is to put an additional burden on the shoulders of students and parents whose lives, in one way or the other, have already been devastated by the pandemic.”

He said universities should find a way to use their reserves to cater for academically-deserving students with their debt and assist those who did not do that well academically to make the necessary arrangements.

South African Union of Students national executive committee member Lukhanyo Daweti said the union had been dealing with the issue of academic and financial exclusions since last year.

“The union concluded that no university must exclude any student this year, even if they (students) have failed dismally, because of the devastating pandemic that students have been grappling with,” Daweti said.

Crowdfunding organisation Feenix’s chief operations officer, Leana de Beer, said many young South Africans’ tertiary education is restricted – seen to be expensive or out of reach for those who can’t get funding through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), bursaries or student loans.

South African Students Congress secretary-general Buthanani Goba said they would work with all stakeholders in the sector to ensure the life of students becomes better.

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