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‘Free higher education isn’t feasible yet’: Stellenbosch ups fees by 8%

2017-10-12 17:26

Stellenbosch University is set to increase fees by 8% in 2018.

Yesterday’s announcement comes as most universities await President Jacob Zuma’s fee commission outcome before disclosing their fee reports.

Stellenbosch was one of three universities – North-West University (NWU) and Free State’s Central University of Technology (CUT) – that told City Press last week that they had quietly initiated talks with student bodies and interest groups to find common ground for their “preliminary” budgets and to come up with an amicable solution rather than wait until it was too late.

CUT announced a preliminary fee increase of 8%, although a final figure would be finalised once Zuma made the report available, CUT spokesperson Daniel Maritz said.

Stellenbosch University rector and vice-chancellor Wim de Villiers said that the university believed that free higher education was not currently feasible in South Africa due to slow economic growth and because the need for financial support would always exceed the available funds.

He said the university, therefore, supported and followed a differentiated approach between high-income and low-income students, and academic qualifications.

“The impact of the market-related fee increases for 2018 will be mitigated through financial support to academically deserving poor students linked to their combined annual household income.

“The university’s own bursaries will also be aligned with increases in tuition and accommodation fees,” De Villiers said.

In addition to the 8% fee increase, the university would increase student accommodation by 9.2% and meal quotas in residences by 8%.

The accommodation increase included R4.2 million for additional security patrols around university residences, the statement said.

Director of the Centre for Higher Education Trust, Dr Nico Cloete, told City Press last week that universities had no choice but to come up with proposed budgets for 2017.

He said last-minute announcements on fee increases often destabilised universities’ planning systems and that this was the “worst time possible” to make an announcement that might disrupt exams.

Meanwhile, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande has condemned the violent protests that erupted at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology on Monday.

Protests led to classes being suspended on Tuesday.

The students were reportedly unhappy with disciplinary action taken against four fellow students by the university.

“The sporadic anarchy that we are witnessing at CPUT has got absolutely nothing to do with legitimate issues such as access and the necessary transformation of education in our country.

“This is about a tiny band of people who harbour criminal intentions and who are hell-bent on destroying the lives and future of thousands of students and their families,” Nzimande said in statement.

Nzimande called out to authorities and law enforcement agencies to “deal decisively, and without mercy” with all criminal acts.

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November 19 2017