The “Immigration and Management of International Students” seminar at Fort Hare’s Alice campus offered valuable insights into the complexities of South African immigration and its impact on affected parties.
Negotiating the country’s immigration laws, requirements and procedures can be daunting for students and staff from abroad. Therefore, Friday’s event tackled these aspects to provide better understanding and empowering those studying and working at the university.
The Eastern Cape tertiary institution currently serves about 350 foreign students.
With topics ranging from types of visas and residency options to pre-registration processes, SRC members as well as undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral students were able to access a wealth of information to guide them through these murky international waters.
The half-day event included a variety of presentations, discussions and interactive sessions.
Students and staff also benefited from a talk by Jabu Makhubela, manager of International Student Services in the Office of International Affairs and Partnerships at Fort Hare.
With more than nine years’ experience in higher education, and in particular internationalisation in tertiary study, he has vast knowledge of the immigration landscape.
While a student at the University of Limpopo, Makhubela and colleagues from other South African and European places of learning appealed for and were granted funding by the European Union to advance internationalisation activities at historically disadvantaged institutions.
These included his alma mater, the universities of Venda and Fort Hare as well as Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
“In terms of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, all universities in South Africa are required to ensure international students comply with the respective immigration policies,” he explained.
“Fort Hare has been found wanting in terms of reporting, so this is a way to educate students in terms of submitting relevant documents and being registered before they can begin studying.”
This documentation includes valid passports, study visas and medical aid.
It was also conveyed to the international students in the audience that if they owed money to the institution, they would not be allowed to register for the following year.
Another important aspect addressed by the seminar was the processes and procedures for renewing study visas, especially in cases of expiration or students failing one or two modules and having to remain in the country.
“There are lots of stakeholders involved in these processes,” Makhubela said. “Not only the International Office, but many others both internally and externally.”
On the seminar’s completion, attendees were given the opportunity to take part in a survey to assess participant satisfaction, gather suggestions for improvement and measure the effectiveness of the lecture in meeting its objectives.