The University of the Free State (UFS) has suspended all academic activities and opened up its two campuses for senior undergraduates and first-year students unable to register online, to do so at their campuses in Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa.
OFM News reports that the university made the announcement on Tuesday amidst the protests by students against financial exclusion and registration difficulties. The university spokesperson, Lacea Loader, tells OFM News that students would be afforded the opportunity to do so from Wednesday until Friday 19 March, whilst academic activities remain suspended on all UFS campuses from 17 to 22 March 2021.
The UFS Student Representative Council (SRC) deputy president, Kamohelo Thakedi, confirms that students who are waiting for funding confirmation from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), will indeed be allowed to register. The UFS says these students can register provisionally without payment of the first amount.
“We understand that the NSFAS had a backlog sending the list of first time and current students. So we said the university must allow these students to be able to register without making any payment. So, now these students – first time and current students – are able to register, as long as they are able to provide [proof] that they did apply for NSFAS funding. And they will be lifted financially so that they can be able to register. So, as it stands the first time and current students do not need to make pre-payment to be able to register,” he adds.
Senior undergraduate students must be in possession of a valid student card (previous year) and will be allowed to enter the campuses without an access permit in order to register. First-year students must be in possession of a firm offer from the UFS in order to register – no campus access permit is needed.
The university says “no online/face-to-face lectures/tests/assignments will take place until 23 March 2021, and the full academic programme will resume on this date. This decision will allow the university management an opportunity to address outstanding matters regarding the admission of senior undergraduate students”.
Loader emphasised that the matter regarding students being victimised, harassed, and assaulted by private security will be investigated. The agreement between students and the university management comes after student bodies, including the South African Students Congress (SASCO) and the EFF Student Command, pronounced the shutting down of UFS.