Student faces a grim future

Siya Mngeni sifting through the pile of letters and notices she sent out and received, coming up with an acceptance letter from UWC.

A young Kosovo informal settlement woman, Siya Mngeni, is disappointed that she was not able to register for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) this year.

The 19-year-old had been accepted at UWC but did not have money for registration.

She said she approached the Student Representative Council (SRC) for advise but efforts to negotiate with the university failed.

Ms Mngeni said she filledout the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) forms and submitted them. In the process, she said she went to her faculty to enquire about the timetable.

But she was apparently told she was not registered and forced to stay at home.

“I did not have money to register at all. I tried my best to reason, even tried to get the SRC to help me. But all and all ,I was not helped. I had to stay at home and do nothing. It is not a nice feeling knowing very well that I should have been at school. We all know that to change our being is to get education first. I wanted to change my family’s life by getting an education,” she said.

Ms Mngeni said she received a letter from the NSFAS in February indicating that she had been approved for funding. “After receiving the letter of funding I went back to the university but I was not accepted. I was told I should have made an arrangement with the faculty,” said Ms Mngeni.

“When I was stranded and confused I went to the SRC and they could not help. I am worried about next year. Would I be accepted again and still get NSFAS? What is going to happen to the funds that I received? Life can be unfair because I so wanted to be at school.”

Ms Mngeni’s furious mother, Ayanda, said she was worried about what would happen to her daughter next year.

“I think this is totally wrong, unethical and uncalled for,” she said. “It is also illegal to deny any child education. I am far from happy with what happened to her. They should have given her information as to what to do when she could not register.”

“A similar situation could play itself out again next year. The first question would be, what if she does not get a school? If she is accepted again, she will still have no money to register. I am a single mother. We are five here surviving on social grant money. She is the only one who could change the fortunes of this family.”

UWC spokesperson, Professor Cherril Africa, said students are accepted into the university, particularly degree programmes, based on their subjects and grades due to limited space.

She said once accepted, the university tries to assist students with applications for NSFAS funding. She added that the university often extends registration deadlines for such students. She said students were allowed to study in the meantime.

“All applicants who received firm offers of acceptance to study at UWC, but were awaiting a funding outcome from NSFAS, were allowed to attend lectures. Emails with this information were sent out to all ‘firm offer’ applicants and this information was also dispersed at help desks,” she said.

“Unfortunately in some cases the registration extension was insufficient to assist because of the length of the delay.”

Professor Africa said in February the faculty where Ms Mngeni had applied had reached its capacity and could no longer register students that had not asked the faculty to reserve their place.

“The university does liaise with the NSFAS team and they also come to campus to assist with resolving these types of issues,” she said. She added that Ms Mngeni can re-apply for study next year and will be considered with the new intake of students.