White River — The Mpumalanga Education Department is setting up a student liaison office for university students who benefit from the provincial government's bursary programme.
MEC Reginah Mhaule made the announcement during a meeting with students who had challenges receiving their bursaries, resulting in some of them being evicted from their residences or denied meals.
"I would like to send out our sincere apology to you... I think communication between the government and the students has been the cause of this tragedy, but I promise that all fees will be settled with your institutions before June every year.
"My department, which has been given the mandate to oversee bursaries on behalf of the provincial government, will open a student liaison office which will be responsible for quarterly visits to students to deal with their challenges," said Mhaule.
One of the students, Samkela Ndlovu, told the MEC that he did his final year in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Natal in 2010, but doesn't know his results because his bill for tuition, accommodation and meals was never settled.
"This has placed me in a difficult situation because I don't know if I have to go back to study or not," he said.
He said that while the bursary for his first and second years were paid, he had to organise a loan to pay for his third and fourth years but didn't have enough to settle the payment in full.
Some students also said they never received in-service training after completing their studies as agreed in their bursary contracts.
All those who had bursaries to study Information Technology (IT) were not given personal computers as promised.
Mhaule promised to deal with the issues urgently. "We will also try to strike partnerships with major companies like Eskom, Telkom, and mining to help us with placements or practical training of students who have completed their studies. We will also organise computers for the students who are doing IT," Mhaule said.