There has recently been protest action at the Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein with students demanding their NSFAS allowances, immediately. Students have said that this is a problem which comes up every month.
Grenades and rubber bullets were used to disperse students who have blocked streets surrounding the campus.
Some students who have received allowances have also seen that the amounts reflected on the student portal are not the same as what they've received.
This bulk of allowances students are waiting for include the accommodation and meals allowance. These students have said that the University is delaying payments unfairly with some students being evicted from their accommodation due to not having received their allowances.
CUT has said that they have been paying NSFAS allowances from their own funds.
The University's management has said that the reason behind these delays are because students’ details are not correct or complete and that they need correct information such as bank details to disburse allowances properly.
On the other hand, students who were protesting have said that these delays are due to the University not sending the registration template to NSFAS, "which resulted in students being unfunded".
When asked about delayed allowances, NSFAS themselves have always said that they have disbursed funds to Universities and it is then up to these Universities to disburse the allowances. Early in the year, another reason would be that NSFAS is waiting for Universities to provide them with registration data of students.
To address this issue, the University released a statement on Monday saying, "To date 10 306 students’ allowances were paid through FUNDI. 789 students have problems with their bank accounts, while 702 students have no banking details on the FUNDI system."
However, one CUT student said:
We reject the appointment of Fundi as a third party because we need the institution to have the capacity to distribute the allowances ... they must hire more staff so that they can be able to issue the allowances in time.
Students are calling for the University to take the situation seriously and to increase their capacities to make sure these processes are done on time.
"It's not justifiable why the institution of technology cannot develop a system that can be able to pay the students in time."
CUT has said that they've been working with the Student Representative Council (SRC) to resolve these issues but protesting students have said that they reject the current SRC because "the SRC that is in place today was not voted for by students, it was imposed to us by management".
Students at the University are also calling for the suspension of the Vice-Chancellor, Henk de Jager and to lift the suspension of student leaders.
The University has suspended classes and announced an early recess from 7 July until 16 July saying, "The decision to allow an early recess is informed by the COVID-19 third wave, and the sporadic violent protests, acts of intimidation, and illegal gatherings by groups of students at both campuses."