Development Studies graduate receives debt instead of qualification

Obtaining a qualification after years of studying is every student’s dream and so is having more than one qualification, particularly for the reason that majority of jobs require the qualifications designed by them. However, for some students, financial reasons may become a barrier between employment and their qualification.

After completing his matric in 2011, Thuthukani Nkosi (27) from Piet Retief hoped he would be enrolled in a university for the academic year in 2012 but could not apply due to a lack of financial support. In 2012 he decided to upgrade his marks in order to qualify for the following year. After successfully enrolling at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the year 2013, he still did not qualify for NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme) even though he submitted both of his parent’s death certificates.

Nkosi had lost his father during his primary years and his mother at the age of 15 – leaving him and his three siblings to fend for themselves. After losing his mother, his older sister dropped out of school at the age of 18 in order to support them. While his sister’s selfless act put food on the table for the Nkosi siblings, it was also a constant reminder that they do not have a relationship with any of their relatives.

Even though life was not easy for Nkosi, and it still isn’t, his determination has led him to graduate twice for his Development Studies certificate; although having never obtained any of his qualifications. Currently, he owes the institution an amount of approximately R527 462.46 and still has no hope of ever settling it. The debt includes a Music course he had dropped out of, as well as his Masters that he is currently doing. It was only in his second year of study that he received support from NSFAS, and life for him was a little bit better.

“Moving to Durban was hard for me because I had no money for registration until I was assisted by a good Samaritan from a choir I sang in back home. He gave me the amount I had to pay. I was forced to spend my first two nights with the petrol attendants because I had no place to sleep. Luckily I got student residence that I also couldn’t pay for,” says Xulu.

Resolving to make a little income, Nkosi started tutoring and singing with the Clermont Choir. He used the money he made to write and publish his novel titled “The Real Price of a Degree”. The inspiration to write his book came in 2017 during his time at university, when he had witnessed a brutal act. Based on a true story; when he decided to publish his novel, it fell under the fiction section because the characters were fictitious.

“The process of publishing my novel cost me approximately R15 000, which I have paid a portion of, the rest I will pay once my book starts selling. At the moment I have sold 50 copies in three weeks, which was my first stock. This time around I am printing 100 books, hopefully people will buy them. My inspiration to write and publish the novel came from Dudu Busani Dube who is also an author. She allowed me to interact on her Facebook page which granted me exposure,” he says.

With his certificate withheld, Nkosi cannot find employment in a sector that is suited for his skills and knowledge. At the moment, his only source of income is from tutoring and his membership in the ward committee in Glenwood, Durban. A sum of R70 000 would enable him to at least get his degree certificate. Nkosi’s biggest wish is to pay off his debt, for his novel to be on every book shops, and to provide for his sister by building a salon for her.

He pleads with the public to help him raise funds to pay off his debt by depositing money into his student account or by buying a copy of his novel. Contact him on +27 78 321 6693 or send a Direct Message on his twitter handle @ThuthukaniNkosi

~ fundizungu@ngcoboempire.co.za


  1. Reply
    Thuthukani Nkosi says

    Thank you for this article it is an accurate reflection of what i shared with Ngcobo Empire.

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