The topic of finance and how many students have once again, not been able to register this year has probably been done and dusted, it has been overly spoken about to an extent where some of us are now simply desensitized towards it. We shrug our shoulders and momentarily feel sympathy when we realize that someone we know, or a few of our classmates did not come back not because of their marks, but because of the funds they weren’t able put down towards registering for another academic year.
Yes, the Student Representative Council (SRC) lends a helping hand by assisting in whatever way possible by appealing for students who were rejected by Financial Aid schemes, Educational Loans and Full-Funding Bursaries. However, after that has been attempted, we still find that a great number of students’ appeals weren’t successful. My question is then, are we, as a University doing enough to ensure that we have a 100% return rate by students? Is it the Universities duty as a whole to ensure that each and every student returns? Or is it only entirely up to the SRC as when we vote for a particular party we trust that the needs and expectations of students will be met?
The main issue is that there is a great need for an eradication of students not being able register. Pushing the registration date back by two weeks or so does very little to help, instead one finds themselves having to pay a late registration fee which is unfortunately a lot more than the initial amount.
Having done a bit of research, I found out that our University isn’t the only one faced with this problem, other Universities throughout the province are faced with the very same challenges. Throughout my research however, I came across the University of Witwatersrand and its interesting solution but whether the solution is feasible is questionable.
The initiative is called 1 million 1 month campaign where each student, along with parents and staff members donate R100 towards the registration of students who are without funding. It is of course an initiative by the SRC at Wits which has, since its establishment, seen a lot of students returning to school.
I then went around campus and told a few students about this campaign, all of which were surprised and interested in it. I then asked some of them if they would be willing to participate in an amazing and selfless initiative. A student who chose to remain anonymous, had this to say, “I think that the 1 million 1 month campaign is a brilliant one and on any other given day I would participate. However, for now I’d have to say no. My mother struggles each year to ensure that my school fees are paid up, she then struggles at the beginning of a new one as she also has to ensure that my registration fees are available for when I have to go back to school. I’ve been in and out of the Financial Aid offices, trying to apply for NSFAS, only to be rejected each time. This is not a personal matter but I too need money to study, R100 is a lot of money to me. I know this is a good cause but I have to be honest and say no for these reasons and more.”
The students answer did not surprise me at all, as much as each and every one of us abides themselves to living with the schools core values, which are Responsibility, Excellence, Environment, Diversity, Ubuntu and Integrity, which are all, at the end of the day, faced with our individual challenges.
If the University of Witwatersrand can come up with an initiative that ensures students coming back for another academic year, I am certain that the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University can achieve the very same thing. As much as the 1 million 1 month campaign does not seem to be having a positive response amongst students, there are other ideas which could be initiated that see the same result as the 1 million 1 month campaign. This not only puts pressure on the SRC, but on the school as a whole, to achieve a 100% return rate by each and every student in the years to come.
Written by: Ntombesizwe Botha