The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) says it is in talks with the landlords of protesting students to resolve their accommodation allowance problems.
Last week TUT obtained an interdict against students disrupting academic activities at its Pretoria West, Arts, Arcadia and Soshanguve campuses.
Protesting students accused the university of treating Pretoria students “unfairly” and different from those at the Polokwane campuses.
“TUT has withheld students’ accommodation allowances who reside in individually leased accommodation in Pretoria,” said TUT student Hlongwane Joseph.
“Yet at Polokwane campus, students in a similar situation have been allocated their allowances. Why must Polokwane campus be different to other campuses?
TUT spokesperson Willa de Ruyter said: “We have been engaging the landlords on an ongoing basis to resolve these issues.”
De Ruyter said Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande issued directives in line with Covid-19 regulations regarding tuition and accommodation fees earlier this month.
“Its purpose is to alleviate the financial strain on institutions, NSFAS, private fee-paying individuals and private accommodation providers,” she said.
De Ruyter said the 2020 academic year would be extended until March 2021, “depending on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”.
“This extension has implications for accommodation and tuition costs.”
She said NSFAS beneficiaries in receipt of accommodation allowances must continue paying private accommodation providers in terms of their agreements with their lease providers.
“This will be in line with the framework agreed upon to reduce monthly payments and spread costs over the extended 2020 academic year. Where there are periods of non-occupation of accommodation, monthly payments should be reduced.”
This will be based on payment regimes, spreading out the agreed costs over the extended 2020 academic year.
She said the cost of university-leased accommodation would remain the same for the 2020 academic year, regardless of its length.
De Ruyter said this was subject to an agreement that the original fee would be paid for both the 2020 academic year and the 2021 academic year and with an agreed inflation-linked increase for 2021.
“This means that both academic years will be conceptualised as a package and payments must be spread out over the full period.”
She said landlords also had to keep their rent at the same level for the 2020 academic year, regardless of its length of time at individually leased private accommodation where students are responsible for making payments themselves, she said.
“Therefore, the cost of all on- and off-campus, owned, leased or accredited private accommodation must remain the same for the 2020 academic year, regardless of its length, capped to the end of March 2021.”
De Ruyter said TUT would therefore spread the remaining available accommodation allowances of NSFAS funded students for the extended 2020 academic year over the next five months starting from 1 November 2020 until 1 March 2021.
In regards to claims accredited residences were charging students inflated market prices because it was government money, De Ruyter said TUT was not aware of such cases.
“The university has a toll-free fraud hotline where such cases can be reported and investigated.”
This article first appeared on Rekord and was republished with permission.