The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Student Representative Council (SRC) says food nutrition is the biggest challenge facing the ‘missing-middle’ students and those awaiting funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS).
The issue affects students at most tertiary institutions across the country, with approximately 3000 students needing assistance at DUT with meals.
Wits University students are protesting to demand among others the R10 000 upfront fee for residence be waivered and the NSFAS R45 000 cap for residence be scrapped.
DUT SRC member Sanele Khumalo says one of the reasons students are not able to afford their groceries is that they are divided into many categories, there are Advanced and Postgraduate Diplomas and Honours students who do not get NSFAS or many other bursaries.
Khumalo says, “These are students who are always hungry for education and who always want to achieve more. Their dedication and love for education are however hindered by the lack of funding. Most of the students have registered academically through grants and are self-payers, these are students who are deemed too rich to get NSFAS, but too poor to get fees, these are children of teachers, police, and nurses. These professions can only afford to pay for families and cannot afford to take children to school because of the way the system is designed, they are excluded from NSFAS funding so they end up making means to register, but cannot afford meals and other essentials, e.g. books and study material.”
AUDIO: Khumalo appeals for more sponsors to assist hungry students:
One of the students at DUT, Sbusiso Gumede, says despite securing money for registration, there is still a challenge when it comes to paying for groceries and accommodation.
“Finding accommodation is a challenge because it is roughly R4 800 to secure the accommodation, that is the deposit, the res registration is R1 000 plus and R4 000 something a month. The budget for grocery is non-existent, which causes a lot of pressure when it comes to academics.”
The Aunt Caroline Rice’s varsity initiative, which is one of the initiatives assisting university students across KwaZulu-Natal with meals, calls for more people to get involved.
The initiative was started when they saw the plight of students sleeping on the floor while waiting for their funding to be approved.
Tiger Brands’ Thembi Sehloho says, “When students are far away from home and they go through all of that, a meal will make a huge difference as one needs to have sustenance to function in class.”
AUDIO | The Aunt Caroline Rice’s varsity initiative was started when they saw the plight of students sleeping on the floor while waiting for their funding to be approved: