The universities have not taken kindly to politicians’ statements‚ and have said applications for first-year studies are already closed.
The USA statement reads: “Universities South Africa is deeply concerned by the call made by some political leaders for students to simply turn up at universities for enrolment without having made appropriate prior arrangements for their admission. This is unfortunate as it may result in a replay of events with potential to cause injury to students and their families. We recall with deep anxiety the event at the University of Johannesburg in January 2012‚ which resulted in the tragic death of a parent.”
The statement refers to a stampede by people queuing for places at the University of Johannesburg’s Bunting Campus‚ in which Kedibone Molete‚ mother of a potential student‚ was crushed to death.
The universities have also said they are deeply unhappy‚ after meeting with government officials‚ to learn free education is “a fait accompli”.
“We were taken by surprise by the announcement made by President Zuma on December  2017. We have raised our concerns about the timing of that announcement and the absence of a clear implementation strategy‚ implementation plan and adequate roll-out time for such a significant development in the funding of our public higher education system.”
“Ideally‚ we would have liked a year to roll out the new system; instead we have two to three weeks. We have repeatedly raised our concerns about the use of the student fee issue as a political football.”
After the shock announcement by Zuma‚ universities met with officials in the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the Department of Higher Education. It was decided that first-year students who may be asking about free tuition must apply online at http://cach.dhet.gov.za/Applicant/UsingCACH
The website is not yet live for the new school year and announces it will be functional from Friday‚ January 5.
The universities pleaded with first-year students asking about funding not to show up in person with queries‚ but to use the website. “We call on students and parents who are anxious to determine if they qualify for the new NSFAS dispensation to follow this route.”
To read the full statement click here: https://www.scribd.com/document/368235575/PR-Public-Universities-Will-Not-Allow-Walk-In-Applications-in-January-2018 (please note the website link in the statement is not correct).