Students demand scrapping of application fee

HENRI UYS

Students at UP want the university to remove the R300 application fee from its application process.

The Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania (PASMA) started an online petition to demand the scrapping of the application fee. In the petition, PASMA states: “In a country known for having the widest income inequality gap in the world, it is important that the university ensures that it is not adding financial obstacles which will prevent the poor from entering its gates. The application fee works to filter the diversity of students entering the university as the poorest who cannot afford such fees are left with no option but to apply to universities that do not charge such a fee.”

PASMA chairperson, Tumelo Marema, said that when the online petition reaches 1 000 signatures, PASMA will take the petition to UP management. Marema said, “Hopefully, in the long run, all applications will be free. Right now we are focusing on the online applications, because what we have found is that they do not have a reason for the money as they do for hard copy applications.” Marema added, “We as an organisation go to different high schools in Pretoria to help them through the application process to universities, and the main reason they don’t apply to UP is because it has the application fee.”

President of the South African Students Congress (SASCO), Thabo Moloja, said that SASCO is also opposed to the application fee. “We want all application fees scrapped, not even lowered. They must go,” Moloja said.

Koketso Aphane, spokesperson of UP’s EFFSC branch, said that EFFSC supports the petition. “They should scrap the application fee because it disadvantages prospective students who don’t have this money. If the fees were scrapped, then prospective students from disadvantaged backgrounds could apply and apply on time,” Aphane said.

UP spokesperson, Rikus Delport, said that although the university is continuously looking for ways to make tertiary education more affordable, the application fee covered necessary administrative costs.

“We accept around 50 000 applications but only have place for nearly 9 000 students. The number of applications places a substantial administrative burden on the university. There is still a degree of applications processing which must be done by hand, even when the applications are electronic. The application fee assists us in covering a portion of these costs. Poor students, who cannot afford it, can apply for an exemption through the normal channels,” said Delport.

The University of Cape Town, the University of Witwatersrand and Stellenbosch University currently charge an application fee of R100. The University of Johannesburg has no application fee. At the time of going to print, the petition had 105 signatures.

 

Photo: Shaun Sprole

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