The EFF has called on academically deserving students to report to universities during registration this year, as universities should not use "bureaucratic impediments" to turn them away, News24 reported.
"The country must be firm with university managers, that they must not close the doors of learning now, using useless bureaucratic impediments when funding, which has been the greatest historic impediment, has been removed," the party reportedly said.
On Tuesday, Universities South Africa (USAF) warned that no walk-ins would be allowed to register. This followed President Jacob Zuma's announcement at the ANC's national conference in December that higher education would be free for poor students.
USAF, which represents all universities, met to decide how to implement Zuma's shock announcement.
"Much to our dismay, we discovered at that meeting that government's decision to implement the new system was a fait accompli [already decided upon].
"Our task, then, as universities, was to work on how to implement the new NSFAS [National Student Financial Aid Scheme] provisions in ways that are more effective to students," said USAF in a statement.
"One of the decisions out of that meeting was that since new applications had closed in 2017 at all 26 universities, no walk-in applications would be accepted."
But according to News24, the EFF said that this was not acceptable, as universities should be finding a way to give these students access to higher education instead of shutting them out: "Universities should be working towards giving expression to the idea, by making provisions for all who did not apply because they did not have money to get a chance to apply and be considered."
The EFF had previously called for academically deserving students to report to universities when they open, a call USAF professor Ahmed Bawa has described as reckless.
According to News24, Bawa previously warned that free education should not be used as a political football: "This is unfortunate, as it may result in a replay of events with potential to cause injury to students and their families."
Bawa's concerns were echoed across social media on Wednesday.
This free tertiary education thing is going to get messy just now.— Songezo Zibi (@SongezoZibi) January 2, 2018
Its almost as if JZ is trying to engineer chaos on SA campuses. Might this be behind the sudden rush to draw up state of emergency regulations late last year? https://t.co/KtA3hFKHin— Stuart Theobald (@rationalhill) January 2, 2018
One day, something will give. Neither Julius Malema nor Jacob Zuma will be fit to stand before a classroom to teach pic.twitter.com/3fzsrD9VJp— Mzu (@Mzukisi_Qobo) January 2, 2018
An eNCA report quoted higher education minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, who said it was unlikely that students would simply arrive at universities hoping to be admitted.
Mkhize: I will be surprised [if ppl just arrive at #UniversityRegistration & expect to be given admission, given the amount of communication we have done to enlighten ppl about the procedure. I expect all universities to send out communications to this effect.— Michael (@TheMikeAppel) January 2, 2018
Min Mkhize: I am puzzled because there has never been a situation, even for those with money, where ppl just go to an institution [&demand #UniversityRegistration]. You enter by admission. The [President's] announcement simply enhances the offering of #NSFAS...increasing support.— Michael (@TheMikeAppel) January 2, 2018
She too added that the EFF's stance was "reckless".
Min Mkhize: I think he [@Julius_S_Malema] made a reckless political statement [calling on people who passed "extremely well...to report to the academic institution of their choice".] #UniversityRegistration— Michael (@TheMikeAppel) January 2, 2018