Cape Town - New and returning Cape Peninsula University of Technology students claim they have no choice but to sleep outdoors on campus or in the student centre because of problems with their financial aid payments and delays on the computer system.  
 While the university has denied the claims, Keke Maki, chairman of the SA Students’ Congress at CPUT Cape Town, said that over the past few weeks Sasco had had to help several students, some of whom had been sleeping rough.
He said the problem was that some students had outstanding debt that hadn’t been paid by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme. These students had now been “blocked” by CPUT, and while many had appealed, they had nowhere to go while they waited for the outcome, which was expected to take up to three weeks. Maki said another problem was that some new students who had been accepted by the university had been told when they arrived that their details didn’t appear on the system. “Many of these students are from the Eastern Cape and elsewhere in the country and their families are far away. What is happening to them is dehumanising.” A third-year student, who didn’t want to be named, said she had lodged an appeal with the university and, in the meantime, was sleeping outside on the piazza on the Cape Town campus. “There are a whole bunch of us who sleep here at night. I don’t understand why this has to happen. It is not our fault. Does the university not care about us?” When she had asked the house mother ofthe residence she stayed in last year for help, she was told they couldn’t help her. A first-year student said his details didn’t immediately appear on the system and he could only move into residence a week later. “I was fortunate enough to have some money to stay in a backpackers, but later I had to look for alternative accommodation. I saw other students sleeping on benches and in the student centre.” But acting dean of students Lionel Harper said: “Even students who are on financial appeal are allowed into our residences. Our student representative council is continually in contact with student affairs and other governance bodies at the institution, but is not aware of this matter.” Had there been the problem of students needing accommodation, the matter would have been raised with the SRC, who would have elevated it to the relevant departments. “CPUT security would have also informed us about students sleeping at the student centre, had there been such a thing.” The institution had bent over backwards to accommodate vulnerable students. “Our system cannot delay students’ admission to our residences since making a payment and getting a receipt is proof of payment and allows a student into the system. Even a letter from the CPUT (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) office is proof enough that a student has been funded. Therefore we automatically allow them into our residences. There’s close liaison between the residence office and the (financial aid scheme) office on campus, so everyone always knows what’s happening with the other and any alleged delays can be resolved.” Financial aid scheme spokesman Kagisho Mamabolo said all universities had received all allocations claimed for 2014, and allocations for 2015 were confirmed in December. Source: iol

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