UWC protests: Interim plan and peace -- for now

The University of the Western Cape has stepped in to assist students affected by an apparent shortfall in funds from the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), pending the outcome of negotiations between UWC and NSFAS.

As part of an agreement with the Student Representative Council, the university will advance each of the 2327 affected students R2500 for food allowance and a further R1000 for travelling expenses.

“We have been in negotiations with management on the issue,” Student Representative Council president Denanai Muchemenye told M&G Education, “And they have come up with an advance payment to the affected students.”

NSFAS has allocated R64-million to UWC for this year, but student applications required an additional R11-million.
The parties have been meeting to resolve the issue, and the university is hopeful that an arrangement will be in place before the end of September.

Fees-related protests turned ugly last week and 20 students were arrested, following their demand that UWC itself meet apparent shortfalls in NSFAS funds. Some students also claimed their supply of Pick ‘n Pay vouchers—part of their NSFAS allocations—had dried up.

“Basically we are waiting on NSFAS to get back to us on whether they will be able to give us any additional funds, and this advance will be recovered from that,” university spokesperson Luthando Tyhalibongo told M&G Education.

“If we don’t get any further funds from NSFAS then the university will have to cover this advance payment, as the students will be under no obligation to repay the funds to UWC.”

In a statement on Sunday, NSFAS spokesperson Bonny Feldman said it was “not possible to comment on how much, if any, additional funds could be made available to students who had missed the initial NSFAS deadlines”.

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