SA extends study permits for foreign students
SOUTH Africa has extended by three months study permits for international students, among them Zimbabweans, whose visas were set to expire in December.
In a statement, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said the extension was necessitated by recent student protests that rocked several top universities in the neighbouring country, leading to their closure.
The Minister said the extension ends on March 31 next year.
“The Department of Home Affairs has granted a blanket extension until March 31, 2017, of all study visas issued for the purpose of studies at tertiary institutions in South Africa. The extension applies to all study visas with an expiry date of, or prior to, 31 December 2016, and it is on condition that the date of departure from South Africa is not later than March 31, 2017,” he said.
Protests at South African universities erupted last month after a Government proposal to raise tuition fees by up to eight percent in 2017.
“We had to intervene in the interest of students mindful of the situation in tertiary institutions and the imperative for all students to complete their academic year. Acting otherwise would be insensitive to the plight of students, their parents, sponsors and broader society. This is key to their future and that of their countries and ours given the potential on their part to contribute meaningfully to our economic growth and prosperity,” said Mr Gigaba.
He said requirements prescribed in the South African immigration regulations have also been waived so that the affected students are not declared undesirable persons when departing from South Africa after the expiry of their temporary residence visas.
Mr Gigaba said the decision to extend the students’ stay in South Africa was reached after his department received representations from tertiary institutions and other stakeholders on the predicament that foreign students found themselves in following the protests. — @ mashnets