Sparked by outrage, uncertainty and fear surrounding funding from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), students at the University of the Free State (UFS) disrupted academic activity on the Bloemfontein campus yesterday.

“If you are studying on borrowed money, it would serve you well to join us!” shouted student activist Liza Mfana.

Student protesters moved through the Thakaneng Bridge forcefully closing the doors to shops and urging students to join the protest. Mfana explained that many students are currently facing academic exclusion as a result of NSFAS rejections and pending appeals.

Mfana said, “We cannot allow our brothers and sisters to be prevented from registering.”

After Mfana had addressed students, the crowd went to lectures rooms across campus to evacuate classrooms. Protesting students then moved to the main building where they were addressed by acting vice-chancellor and rector Professor Nicky Morgan. Morgan relayed to students management’s struggle in obtaining clarity and assistance from NSFAS.

He added that the university has pledged to register as many students as possible. Prof. Morgan said, “We are doing our best but we want you students to accept that there are some things that are out of our hands.”

Following the conclusion of Morgan’s address, students gathered at EBW Auditorium to formulate a memorandum of demands. The memorandum was submitted to management at 5pm and a response will be communicated at 1pm today.

Some students believe that academic activities should be suspended until everything is resolved.

 

Written by Tammy Fray