Protesting Walter Sisulu students yesterday torched a university sedan and a section of an administration block at its Queenstown campus.
Hundreds of students embarked on mass action demanding better regulation of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The university’s spokeswoman Yonela Tukwayo confirmed yesterday that a second campus of the university, in Queenstown, was hit by protests while the Mthatha campus was on a complete shutdown.
The university said they had not assessed all the damage in Queenstown but were expecting cost estimates soon.
Yonela said although access to NSFAS funding was at the centre of the student protests, each campus had unique issues.
“In Queenstown, there were some students who did not meet the NSFAS deadline and did not sign their loan agreement forms and as a result still had not received their financial allowances for books and meals.
“Some are having challenges in logging into NSFAS online to access their loan agreement form and WSU is no longer managing the NSFAS application process,” said Tukwayo.
This year, NSFAS rolled out its student-centred model to universities and technical and vocational education and training (TVET) colleges.
The new model is supposed to allow students to apply for funding directly from the scheme.
However, WSU still has to submit student results to the scheme for re-awarding.
Tukwayo said that in Mthatha there were some students whose marks were not submitted on time to NSFAS but the issue was dealt with.
“The submissions were late because those students had queries on the results and had requested a re-marking. These were all resolved during the special cases committee sittings in March,” said Tukwayo.
SRC secretary Ukho Tikinca said the students had approached the university’s management to intervene.
“We have been expressing the fact that the online process was complicated for us and that it makes it difficult for us to access funding,” Tikinca said.
Some students called the NSFAS office and were told their results had not been submitted by the university.
“We told management of those responses, but they maintained that there were no results that were not submitted. I think management does not understand the urgency in accessing funding for the students.” — firstname.lastname@example.org with additional reporting by The Rep