KZN students sleep rough amid housing and registration challenges
About 250 first-year students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) Pietermaritzburg campus spent two nights on the tarmac outside the security gates after claiming that the university had failed to provide them with accommodation.
Bachelor of science student Ayanda Mqadi from Umlazi said her foray into tertiary education could best be described as “turmoil”.
“My registration has been miserable. We have no food and yesterday [Wednesday ] we ended up sleeping on the tarmac at the university's gate,” she said.
UKZN student representative council president Malusi Zuma said their efforts to find common ground with the university management had yielded no positive results on campus.
He said the academic year had started off with glitches.
“We have had to try to plot a way forward which would have solutions for the students' woes, but no solutions have been forthcoming,” said Zuma.
He said student accommodation had always posed a big challenge for the university, which has five campuses across the province.
“We know that housing is always the biggest challenge but we have never reached a stage where students have to sleep outside,” said Zuma.
He said while the university had made plans to offer temporary accommodation, this becomes an administrative bungle.
Late registration is expected to be finalised on Friday.
“We have a big problem with management which does not want to open new buildings,” said Zuma.
He added that the university cited a lack of finances for not being able to create more accommodation. He said it was not always conducive for some students to study and live off campus with large families.
“With the advent of online education, things have gotten tough as students cannot fully study from their homes. The network is erratic,” said Zuma.
EFF student command secretary Akhona Jali called for student housing managers to fast-track a process of negotiations with private accommodation landlords so the impasse could be resolved.
Meanwhile, the Durban University of Technology (DUT) also had its share of students sleeping outside the campus gates on Wednesday night.
About a dozen students camped outside, accompanied by EFF student council members over complaints related to the institution’s higher certificate, an exit-level qualification that allows students with a grade 12 certificate endorsement to be permitted admission into a first-level university qualification upon completion.
Some of the students who spoke to TimesLIVE said they had no place to go and no money for food.
Nomfundo Sibiya, who enrolled for a higher certificate in marketing at DUT last year, was turned away by Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) as she was told that was she was enrolled as a DUT student.
Three other higher-certificate students, Melusi Zungu, Nongcebo Gumede and Mhlengeni Mngadi, said they had pleaded with DUT departments via email to accept them — to no avail.
Mngadi said he would sleep outside DUT’s gates until their issues were resolved.
Noxolo Memela, DUT communications manager, told TimesLIVE that the completion of a particular higher-certificate qualification did not imply automatic student admission to their diploma courses.
She said the university didn’t offer or have the capacity to provide accommodation to every individual seeking study placement, regardless of whether they were registered for a higher certificate or registered students the previous year.
Memela said: “The issue of higher certificates will be further discussed in a senate executive committee (Senex) meeting on March 10. “The matter of higher-certificate recipients has also been discussed at length with the SRC after this matter was raised the previous year as well. At no point has the university ever promised students enrolling for a higher certificate that upon completion they will be automatically placed as first years on any study programme.”
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