Political rivals helping matriculants into college and university

Since Monday, UJ student volunteers, the EFFSC and the SRC have been working together to help students find accommodation, fund their studies, and find out if the university has space for them. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Since Monday, UJ student volunteers, the EFFSC and the SRC have been working together to help students find accommodation, fund their studies, and find out if the university has space for them. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Although orange banners announce that the University of Johannesburg (UJ) will not accept prospective students walking into the campus to register, a white tent in the parking area suggests otherwise.

UJ has already received more applications than they have space for, yet the university’s online application system open. The university has so far had 19 000 late inquiries and online applications since January 8.

The Economic Freedom Fighters Student Command (EFFSC) questioned the university’s logic when it extended the online applications deadline.

Since Monday, UJ student volunteers, the EFFSC and UJ’s student representative council (SRC) have been working together to help students find accommodation, fund their studies, and find out whether the university has space for them.

The EFFSC and SRC are prepared to help people find alternative placements at other higher education institutions.

UJ SRC deputy chairperson Nhlanhla Mbongwa said they are “trying to get everyone into the system”, which means working with SRCs at other universities and colleges.

“We are trying not to politicise the system,” said Mbongwa. “We are trying to stop students from being rejected and returning to townships.”

He said that “irrespective of political association” academically strong students are being assisted to get into a university, while those with diplomas or a national senior certificate are being guided to technical vocational education and training colleges.

Mbongwa added that he has helped about 60 matriculants apply for marketing diplomas over the past three days.

He hopes that by February 2, when registration closes, most students will have been accommodated at a college or university, but both the SRC and the EFFSC are prepared to continue helping people with online applications up until the first week of the academic year. 

The EFFSC has been trying to register as many people as possible at UJ in the hope of gaining ground in the SRC elections in March.

The organisations’ main concern are matriculants from rural areas who may not have easy access to the online registration system.

David Raphunga, a volunteer for the EFFSC and a third-year student at UJ, said the process of assisting their “black brothers and sisters” register online has been slow because the university’s server has been temperamental and no handwritten applications are being accepted.

But he and his team are determined not to leave anyone in the lurch and have assisted at least 50 people each day to register at UJ or direct them to another higher education institution.

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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