Recently elected President of the Student Representative Council (SRC) at the University of the Free State (UFS), Asive Dlanjwa, said improving access to the university as well as ensuring that the needs of students residing off-campus are considered in the university’s structures and policies, are items high on his agenda. “I hope to deal with all forms of exclusion, among which academic exclusion and to look at what factors lead to academic exclusion and the structures governing this form of exclusion. We have found for instance that the Exclusion Appeals Committee does not have student representatives and it’s important to get them in there. This is a committee that has the power to pronounce the future of our students,” he said.
Another form of exclusion Dlanjwa spoke about was financial exclusion, which, he says is a big problem at the university. More recently over 100 foreign students that were unable to pay their fees, were deregistered.
“There we will be looking at registration as well as arrangements within that space, one of which is provisional registration, which I believe is very important. In the past year, over 5000 students who normally wouldn’t have been able to study were allowed to study because of provisional registrations. So one of my goals is to ensure that provisional registration remains and that it works efficiently,” Dlanjwa said.
Speaking on the issue of students that were deregistered last month, Dlanjwa says the SRC is of the view that no student should have been deregistered as there were technical mishaps and oversights that point to this. He revealed that the SRC is still in talks with the university’s management and that owing to this, he would not be able to provide more insight into that controversy.
On another hot issue, being the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and problems students face with regards to issues of the scheme not paying on time and so forth, Dlanjwa said they will be looking at ways to mitigate this so that students are not compromised during this process.
Moving on to off-campus students, Dlanjwa said several issues contribute to on-campus students, who make up the minority, receiving preferential treatment over the majority that resides off campus. This is another issue he hopes to focus on and change as president.
“There are issues of student life and sport and stuff, you will find that classes are either too early or too late, and the question would be, can everyone make it to class at that time? There are issues of transportation to consider around those discussions and these are all things we aim to look at. We are focused on making sure that the needs of the off-campus students are taken into consideration,” Dlanjwa said.
Other matters he aims to look at are why the university’s recent transport pilot project failed as well as ensuring that off-campus accommodation vendors are accredited so that they match the standard of on-campus accommodation.
– PULANE CHOANE