Wits University students who cannot afford the first fee payment prior to enrolment or registration will still be allowed to register.
This is in terms of an agreement reached between the university’s management and the Students Representative Council (SRC) on a wide range of issues and which includes a commitment to the realisation of free education as the ultimate goal for all students who qualify academically and who cannot afford it.
The university said no student would be financially excluded during the academic year because they are unable to make their first payment.
There would also be no interest on the first fee payment for those who indicated that they could not afford the first payment.
On the issue of outstanding debt‚ it was agreed that all students who owed the university between R1 and R1‚000 as at 31 December 2015 would be allowed to register in 2016. The outstanding debt for 2015 would be rolled over to 2016.
The university estimated that this concession would benefit 3‚607 students this year. It was also agreed that students who could show that they were fully funded for 2016 would be allowed to register. They will have to sign an acknowledgement of debt for fees owed in 2015.
“The University will work with the SRC to raise funds to clear the debt of approximately 1‚284 students who owe the University between R1‚001 and R5‚000 (as at 31 December 2015). If this effort is successful‚ these students will then be allowed to register in 2016‚” Wits said.
It added that the SRC and the university would approach the provincial government to cover the debt of about 1‚418 students who owed the university between R5‚001 and R20‚000 as at 31 December 2015.
“If these efforts are successful‚ these students will be allowed to register for the 2016 academic year.”
It was also agreed that workers’ children who qualified for admission to the university and to residence would receive a full package‚ including tuition and accommodation.
On the issue of insourcing‚ the university has agreed to more frequent reporting from the Insourcing Task Team.
With regards to a minimum wage demand‚ the university agreed that it was of the “utmost urgency for Council to make a decision between the proposed R4‚500 and R5‚ 000”.
University management and the student representatives agreed that in securing and providing safety and security to the university community‚ police should not use undue force that violates any human rights. The university and students need to find a non-violent and amicable way of resolving issues‚ the parties stated.
The university reaffirmed itse commitment that there should be accountability‚ efficiency and consistency within the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office (FASO)‚ adding that FASO was already undergoing a review process.
The university also committed to initiating‚ during the first block and upon the return of all students‚ the processes necessary for holding a General Assembly.
It added that residence fees had not been increased‚ in line with the agreement on the zero percent fee increases. However‚ meal costs had increased.
“The University will require about 24 hours to adjust its administrative processes to accommodate this agreement and we ask all students to be patient during this period‚” it concluded.