Students face study permit nightmare

0

South African educational institutions cannot register international students who do not have a valid study permit, but Rhodes University is being forced to make concessions for close to 200 international students who have not been issued with study permits or renewals, due to Home Affairs delays of up to six months.

South African educational institutions cannot register international students who do not have a valid study permit, but Rhodes University is being forced to make concessions for close to 200 international students who have not been issued with study permits or renewals, due to Home Affairs delays of up to six months.
With study permits being in high demand, many international students are being forced to wait for many months to receive their permits or extensions. Without valid study permits, students are unable to carry out important tasks like applying for new bank accounts or cards.

Rhodes currently has 1 637 international students registered out of a student population of 7 191. With students worrying about the outcome of their study permit applications, many approach the Rhodes International Office for help.

Orla Quinlan, Director of the International Office, said, “The University is fully aware of the situation with Home Affairs. Students are referred to the International Office if they are facing any critical issues and we advocate on their behalf.”

Quinlan sits on the Management Council of the International Education Association of South Africa, which met with Jack Monedi, the acting chief director for permits at Home Affairs, earlier this year. She said it was agreed that if a student could produce proof that they had applied for the study permit, they would be provisionally registered within the University and not be deregistered.

“In February of this year the International Office collated a list of 172 known applicants who still had not received their study permits,” said Quinlan. “But we are only one of 23 institutions. I can only imagine the task they have on their hands.”

Zimbabwean Andrew Robinson is a third-year Rhodes University Business Science student who applied for an extension on his study permit in Port Elizabeth in October 2011.

“I am currently on a 90-day vacation permit in South Africa and am only temporarily registered with Rhodes University. I was told I would get an SMS from Home Affairs in Port Elizabeth when my permit was ready, but I have still not received anything.”

This has led to a whole host of problems, as Robinson lost his bank card returning to South Africa and could not obtain a new one without a study permit. As the opening of a new account would also require evidence of a study permit, Robinson was left with no way of gaining access to the money he needed to live on.

Up until 2009, international students could renew their study permits in the Grahamstown Home Affairs office, but this soon ended when the application process was centralised to larger cities like Port Elizabeth. The effectiveness of this move has been questioned because the permits are still sent to Pretoria to be processed.

“There is an acknowledged systemic problem in Home Affairs, but there is a comprehensive plan and a commitment to address the issues within the next year, said Quinlan. I have worked with some excellent people at the senior levels of Home Affairs, but getting the right expertise and training to the frontline level in the offices around the country will take some time.”

Ronnie Mamoepa, Head of Communication and Ministerial Spokesperson for Home Affairs, did not respond to requests for comment from Grocott's Mail.

Facebook Comments

About Author

Comments are closed.