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Unisa’s student leadership takes debt bull by the horns

The staggering student debt at Unisa, currently exceeding R1 billion, has galvanised the Student Representative Council (SRC) at both national and regional level to intensify efforts in addressing this pressing issue.

SRC office bearers participated in a financial training workshop from 13 to 15 March 2024, focusing on financial prudence within the structure. Amidst this training, attention was also drawn to critical matters affecting Unisa students, particularly the mounting student debt crisis.


(From right) SRC Treasurer-General, Nokuthula Mathonsi, and regional SRC treasurers Kwanele Hlope (Johannesburg), Lesejane Morati (Midlands), Sonto Mthwane (KwaZulu-Natal), Lesedi Nkoana (Limpopo), Fentse Kganyago (Tshwane), Hlobisile Nkosi (Mpumalanga), and Sipho Konkwane (Eastern Cape)

Nokuthula Mathonsi, SRC Treasurer-General, alongside SRC treasurers from various regional centres, has acknowledged the alarming number of students burdened with outstanding fees owed to the university.

A significant portion of students struggle to settle their fees due to financial constraints, either being indigent or falling within the "missing middle" ineligible for coverage under the National Student Financial Aid Scheme that supports students in tertiary institutions across the country.

Mathonsi expressed concern over the substantial number of students unable to register for the first academic semester of 2024 due to historical debt. She emphasised: "This is a significant concern as many students find themselves trapped within the university system without advancing to the next stage of their lives."

In response, SRC treasurers have resolved to launch a campaign across regional centres to raise funds aimed at alleviating student debt. Their goal is to provide students with the opportunity to clear historical debt, enabling them to register, pursue further studies and enter into the world of work.

"Through this campaign, SRC treasurers are committed to ensuring that none of our deserving students face delays in starting their future due to financial exclusion. Funds raised will be allocated to students in need of financial assistance,” said Mathonsi.

Currently, 39 SRC members have pledged support towards assisting students. A series of activities are planned for the year, including the SRC Fun Run scheduled for 3 May 2024 at the Florida Campus in Johannesburg. Additionally, initiatives such as monthly “giving weeks” and a student debt dinner are planned for June 2024. The campaign will be extensively promoted across the university's media platforms, appealing to various stakeholders for donations.

A QR code has been created to facilitate donations, allowing individuals to contribute securely and conveniently online:

* Article authored by Nokuthula Mathonsi, NSRC Treasurer-General, in collaboration with the Unisa Foundation

Publish date: 2024/03/26

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