Wits SRC will swop protests for fundrais­ing

CityPress - - News - S’THEM­BILE CELE sthem­bile.cele@city­press.co.za

Wits Univer­sity’s Stu­dents’ Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil (SRC) has aban­doned protests un­der the #FeesMustFall move­ment and in­stead opted to launch a mas­sive fundrais­ing cam­paign to cover costs for the “miss­ing middle” cat­e­gory of stu­dents.

The cam­paign, called #Ac­cess, will fo­cus on rais­ing R10 mil­lion and will be launched on the univer­sity’s east cam­pus to­day.

“The ‘miss­ing middle’ are stu­dents re­ferred to as be­ing ‘too poor to be rich and too rich to be poor’,” the SRC said.

“They are stu­dents who do not meet the cri­te­ria for fund­ing by the Na­tional Stu­dent Fi­nan­cial Aid Scheme (Nsfas), yet can­not af­ford to pay their fees on their own. Some come from house­holds where the com­bined in­come is as lit­tle as R120 000 per an­num. Th­ese are not middle class stu­dents.”

The is­sue of the miss­ing middle re­mains a great chal­lenge for univer­si­ties, de­spite govern­ment set­ting aside an ex­tra R6.9 bil­lion to fund stu­dents, in ad­di­tion to Nsfas’ R10 bil­lion bud­get.

At this time last year, the SRC was rais­ing what even­tu­ally amounted to about R3.5 mil­lion as part of its “one mil­lion, one month” cam­paign, set up to raise money for stu­dents who could not re­ceive as­sis­tance from Nsfas.

Govern­ment, univer­sity vice-chan­cel­lors and oth­ers have been urg­ing stu­dents across the coun­try to stop protest­ing and re­turn to lec­tures.

For the most part, the call ap­pears to have been suc­cess­ful, as reg­is­tra­tion has pro­ceeded with­out dis­rup­tion – with the ex­cep­tion of some in­sti­tu­tions in Gaut­eng where stu­dents have protested pri­mar­ily against the out­sourc­ing of univer­sity sup­port work­ers.

PHOTO: COR­NEL VAN HEER­DEN

Wits stu­dents dur­ing the #FeesMustFall protests on Wed­nes­day

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