South African Students Protest High Cost of Education

South African Students Protest High Cost of Education

South African Students at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg have taken to the streets to protest the high cost of studying at the university. According to reports from Africa News, the students began their protests on Wednesday by shutting down the campus. They have been demonstrating against the exclusion of students who are unable to afford to register for the new academic year and pay off their debts.

The students revealed that the cost of studying at a South African university is becoming unbearable for students as it increases every year. According to data from financial services group, Old Mutual, university students in South Africa will part with an average of $3,000 in 2023. This amount is a significant burden for students who come from poor backgrounds.

One of the student leaders said that they are demanding that the university does not leave academically deserving students stranded. Lungile Magagula, the Wits University Student Forum Interim Chairperson, said that financial exclusion is not a valid reason to bar students from starting the new academic year. Magagula said, “The problem here is that students are not able to register due to financial reasons. Most students who are unable to register are academically deserving to register but they are unable to because of financial reasons. And that is one of our major demands.”

Last week, students at Wits University were seen sleeping in public places due to delays in securing financial aid for accommodation. Onkokame Seepamore, a final year BA Law student, expressed concern that financial aid for accommodation continues to be a struggle every year. Seepamore said, “At the current moment, I don’t have funding and I am appealing for financial aid. For the past years, it was okay but this year it became a struggle because I didn’t have funding at all. I had problems getting accommodation and registering.”

Jabulile Mbanjwa, a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) student, recalled repeatedly applying for bursaries but with no luck. Mbanjwa said, “I studied a BA Law and I am doing the two postgraduate LLB, and because financial aid has defunded the two-year and three-year stream of LLB, I am stuck without funding. I was fortunate to register, but I don’t know how I am going to cover my fees, and I was not able to get accommodation because I don’t have financial aid.”

The Fees Must Fall protests erupted on campuses throughout South Africa seven years ago. Students demanded free and quality tertiary education. In a similar action to build on the past demonstrations, Magagula said this is the perfect time to put pressure on the government to provide free education. Magagula said, “It is time for us to consider free education. These are issues that emanate from us not having free education. It is time for the government and universities to work together to consider free education.” The students are determined to continue their protests until their demands are met.


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