Back­log of univer­sity ap­pli­ca­tions

Ma­tric Class of 2016 on ten­ter­hooks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - YAZEED KAMALDIEN

MA­TRIC pupils plan­ning to study at univer­sity next year are los­ing hope as in­sti­tu­tions, grap­pling with #FeesMustFall protests, have not re­sponded to all ap­pli­cants yet.

While some high school pupils have made al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments be­cause they have not heard back from univer­si­ties, oth­ers fear they may end up spend­ing a year at home.

Ali­son Sickle, a ma­tric teacher at Rock­lands High School in Mitchells Plain, said: “Some pupils ap­plied to study at univer­sity but quite a few also said they are not go­ing to ap­ply.

“I told them to ap­ply be­cause you need a plan A and plan B. You need op­tions.”

Sickle said pupils were fac­ing pres­sure with their fi­nal exam and an un­cer­tain fu­ture added to their woes.

“The protests have de­mo­ti­vated our learn­ers who can’t get answers from univer­si­ties about their ap­pli­ca­tions,” she said.

“They’re spend­ing money to go to the univer­si­ties to find out what’s hap­pen­ing. It has a psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fect on learn­ers. They’re writ­ing the most im­por­tant exam and they don’t know if there will be answers about next year. We need to mo­ti­vate them all the time.”

Tarin-Lee Hans, a ma­tric teacher at Groen­vlei High School in Lans­downe, said about half of the pupils at the school had ap­plied to univer­si­ties.

“We told the pupils about all their op­tions, in­clud­ing col­leges and learn­er­ships. There are other al­ter­na­tives as well,” she said.

Teach­ers and pupils at var­i­ous schools mostly sup­ported calls for a de­crease in univer­sity fees but con­demned vi­o­lence.

Hans said: “The #FeesMustFall protest is a good cause and there is a need to sub­sidise peo­ple who can’t af­ford to study. But the protest is not right when our learn­ers can’t study next year.

“I spent most of my years study­ing at UWC. It’s sad to see stu­dents are burn­ing the place down. The med­i­cal build­ing is now be­ing de­stroyed and stu­dents need that tech­nol­ogy.”

Univer­si­ties, mean­while, have ei­ther post­poned end-of-year stu­dent ex­ams un­til next year or found al­ter­na­tive, se­cure exam venues so stu­dents can write ex­ams and grad­u­ate next year.

Lau­ren Kans­ley, spokes­woman for the Cape Penin­sula Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy, said it was also swamped with new ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Pro­cess­ing of ap­pli­ca­tions is tak­ing place at off-site lo­ca­tions. The pro­ce­dure is se­verely de­layed but we con­tinue to work through the back­log,” she said.

Kans­ley could not con­firm whether CPUT has seen a de­crease in stu­dent ap­pli­ca­tions this year due to protests.

“We have not cap­tured all ap­pli­ca­tions yet so it is dif­fi­cult to say,” she said. Luthando Ty­hal­i­bongo, spokesman for the Univer­sity of the West­ern Cape, said protests had not had much of an ef­fect on their ap­pli­ca­tions.

“Our ad­min­is­tra­tion staff have con­tin­ued with their du­ties,” he said.

“We had a look at our ap­pli­ca­tions and the trend is very much the same as last year. The protests have not had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on our ap­pli­ca­tions.”

Var­i­ous in­sti­tu­tions have mean­while writ­ten off stu­dent debt, one of the pri­mary protest de­mands, and the na­tional Trea­sury this week com­mit­ted R8 bil­lion to­wards pay­ing for poor stu­dent’s fees.

Kans­ley said CPUT had writ­ten off R111 mil­lion in stu­dent debt. Ty­hal­i­bongo said UWC was un­able to write off its R283m in stu­dent debt “with­out fi­nan­cial sup­port from gov­ern­ment”.

Martin Viljoen, spokesman for Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, said it would only be able to con­firm its stu­dent debt next year.

“Un­for­tu­nately the univer­sity is not in a po­si­tion to com­ment on this is­sue as we do not have the in­for­ma­tion yet.

“The fi­nan­cial year ends on 31 De­cem­ber and the 2017 bud­get is con­sid­ered by coun­cil at the end of Novem­ber,” said Viljoen.

“All ex­penses will be re­ported on in the an­nual re­view.”

Protests have cost univer­si­ties mil­lions as 18 univer­si­ties coun­try­wide re­ported vi­o­lence to­talling al­most R460m be­tween Oc­to­ber last year and May.

A num­ber of stu­dents in the West­ern Cape have been ar­rested and some sus­pended from classes.

Twenty-five UWC stu­dents were re­leased on bail this week af­ter be­ing ar­rested for pub­lic vi­o­lence.

They will ap­pear in court next month.

Tarin-Lee Hans, a ma­tric teacher at Groen­vlei High School in Lans­downe.

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