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Study debt debacle upsets students

A group of frustrated students are up in arms because their qualifications are being withheld because they are in debt to the Capricorn TVET College.

POLOKWANE – The students are upset about the treatment they have received from the college with regard to accounts they have received from the debtors’ department.

“We have received SMS messages informing us we had been handed over to debt collectors. We are bursary beneficiaries but the last time I checked my study statement I noticed my debt was drastically increasing. This matter is seriously stressing me because I don’t know what to do about this debt as I am unemployed. I don’t even have a certificate to produce to the labour market in order to find employment as it is withheld by the college due to the increasing outstanding amount.

“One thing that frustrates me further is that when you apply for a bursary, there are documents one should provide to prove you are from a disadvantaged family. If you get approved and you are affected by a shortfall you will not be able to pay your outstanding fees due to your family background. We never denied to pay back the college but how do we pay while we do not have the certificates to prove our qualifications to potential employers? But we won’t leave the matter here,” one of the affected students, who wished to remain anonymous, told BONUS.

The South African Further Education and Training Student Association (Safetsa) National Deputy President, Joel Mamabolo, said: “Our biggest struggle was that the Department of Higher Education and Training should release the certificates but in the long run we achieved that. So with the recent matter of the Capricorn TVET College we advise affected students to approach our office or feel free to contact me directly at 082 060 4804 to discuss the matter. We are open-minded and willing to resolve their issues.”

Capricorn TVET College Public Relations Officer, Tumelo Morobe, said: “College fees are set and approved by the College Council as based on the Department of Higher Education and Training’s guidelines. It is the practice of the college to accommodate the needy and academically deserving students at the college. We do not refuse students access to teaching and learning just because they do not have the minimum admission fee, instead parents or guardians are encouraged to make part payment and subsequently make proper arrangements with the campus management on how to repay the outstanding balance in a stipulated time. When they fail to honour their obligation or commitment to pay the college as per the arrangements, then their accounts are handed over to the debt collectors. This is only done to students who have exited the college and who are not making any arrangements to repay the college. The college has made thorough follow-ups with the students to pay their debts so there are no challenges with the release of their qualifications. However, we will need the details of the concerned students to check if their certificates and diplomas have been released by the Department of Higher Education and Training, as they were experiencing backlogs going as far back as 2007”.


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