Friday, September 30, 2011

South African Varsity Students Must Appreciate What They Have

Siphumelele Zondi

One would often hear some South Africans complain about how better things are in certain parts of the world and I have been in Britain for only two days to get that sought after Master’s degree from the University of Sussex which has a huge international student body and has been listed in the top three this year for a best university award. I have found that students from the so called first world seem to have bigger problems than us.

I have met two American students who say obtaining their development Master’s degree is cheaper than obtaining it in their native USA despite them getting foreign rates in the United Kingdom. They say their struggle for an affordable education in America is an ongoing battle. One mentioned that she took out loans to be here as she would back home and the other said in the US she had two work two part time jobs in order to pay her fees and she is in huge debt which would mean finding a job in the UK too in order for her to survive.

This also made me think that a lot of South Africans would never suffer this much for their education. We have NFSAS which allows those who cannot afford university education to get loans and only start repaying once they start working, but it is alarming to see how many students often neglect this choice and choose to sit at home and waste their lives aways complaining of the government not doing enough to support them when there are structures that can enable them to get that first step in order to help themselves in future.

Those who do not qualify to get this government loan can easily go to the bank and get a student loan that again can be repaid once they start working. We seem to complain about free education a lot forgetting that as we are working towards that there are places one can go to get some money in order to improve their lives.

After living in a two bedroomed town house in South Africa which I didn’t have to share with anybody I am shocked to realise that the amount I pay for a room in a university-run house is the same as one would pay for a monthly instalment in a town house in certain parts of South Africa. This made me realise that our standard of living is definitely better than it is here. We also get a lot of sunshine which greeted me on my first day and a half in the United Kingdom, but as I look outside on the third day I realise that I will have to get used to these grey skies I am told will be my way of life from now on.

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