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UCT denies evictions for non-payment of fees

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The University of Cape Town has denied that they are evicting students for non-payment of fees after the newly inaugurated Student Representative Council (SRC) on Friday declared war on what it called an “antagonistic anti-black move”.

According to the SRC, it knew of 29 students who were handed notices to vacate their residences by this past Friday due to financial constraints.

SRC secretary general Sinawo Tambo said over the past semester, a number of students have been allowed to stay in residence, attend classes and access the university’s facilities on the basis that they would be able to cover their costs at a later stage on an agreed payment plan.

“This formal agreement comes in the form of what is known as a grace period. Understanding of course that these students are primarily black, circumstances regarding financial settlement of outstanding debts, payment of initial fees are not processes that can be rigid and ones that can locate themselves outside of our socio-economic conditions as a country.”

Members of the SRC, who started their term on June 1, had been engaging with faculties and residence councils since the being of the month, but eviction notices were nevertheless issued during this period, Tambo said.

UCT spokesperson Elijah Moholola, however, said no student has been requested to vacate their residences as a result of non-payment of fees.

“The Student Housing and Residence Life office has sent notices to 12 students who are academically ineligible to continue in 2017 and are therefore not registered for this academic year. These students will be provided with the necessary transport assistance to return to their homes,” he said in a statement.

“There are currently 13 students who have made financial arrangements to pay their outstanding debt and have therefore received access to lectures and online facilities through the grace period, but will only be registered once their fees are settled.”

‘Anti-black move’

Tambo questioned the timing of the evictions, pointing out it was shortly before the commencement of the midyear exams.

“We ask ourselves what is the logic behind this. Why would students be allowed to stay in residence, attend classes, make submissions, only to be evicted on the eve of examinations? It is an antagonistic anti-black move that will affect each and every one of these students emotionally and psychologically,” he argued.

The move was rash and insensitive, Tambo said, and undermined “all of the efforts that encourage engagement in the institution”.

“We are saying to all those 29 students, all those whose cases we may not be aware of, all those African students who are excluded on grounds that they are measured at the same economic level as students from outside the continent, do not move.

“Do not leave the institution, do not vacate your residences and should there be any violent attempt at removing you, be it via threats, double locking of your rooms, contact us, do not be intimidated.”

Moholola said the university had put measures in place to assist students with debt, particularly in 2017 and 2016.

“For 2017, a total of 1 398 appeals by students with debt were considered by the Student Financial Aid Office. From these appeals, 1 305 students were successful, with 935 students being able to continue with their studies at UCT and 370 graduates receiving assistance to graduate.”

There were 93 unsuccessful appeals for reasons including that the student did not get the 50% pass requirement set by NSFAS, and that the family income was above the UCT financial aid and GAP funding threshold of R600 000, Moholola said.

“A further 152 appeals received were not processed, as the students fees were paid directly – their sponsors paid or they received assistance from the SRC Assistance Fund at the time the appeal was considered.”

He said the institution’s executive “remains committed to, within the context of available resources, assisting all academically and financially eligible students”.

[Source: News24]
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