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Wits fee increase for 2017

- Wits University

Statement from the Senior Executive Team:

The Council of the University of the Witwatersrand has confirmed that the University will be increasing fees for the 2017 academic year by an average of 8% for tuition and residence fees. An 8% increase is also applicable for international student fees. The only exception is for postgraduate programmes run in the Wits School of Governance, where tuition fees will increase by 9.5%. These increases are in line with the recommendations made by the state in September this year.

Sustainability

The University has no choice but to increase fees if it is to remain financially sustainable as academics and professional and administrative staff need to be remunerated, books and journals need to be purchased (many in foreign currency), utilities need to be paid and infrastructure needs to be maintained. In addition, the University will accommodate the costs of insourcing and the new ICT renewal project from 2017.

The table below reflects the various scenarios that the University could face if fees are increased at different levels.

Increase

Forecast deficit for 2017

8%

R 56.5 million

6%

R 90 million

0%

R 191 million

It must also be noted that the state compensation for the 0% increase for the 2016 academic year amounted to approximately R146 million. However, we have been recently informed that the 2016 fee increase will now be rolled into the subsidy, the net effect of which is that our subsidy increase for 2017 will be only 2.5%. This equates to a net decline in income of approximately R54 million for 2017 from the state.

Student input

The decision on the 2017 fee increase was recommended by management and the Financial Committee (FinCo) of the University and approved by Council after consultation with the elected Students’ Representative Council (SRC). The SRC is represented on FinCo and Council and had requested a 0% increase in tuition fees for 2017. Their input was considered and deliberated extensively before the final decision was made.

Funding of students

Council is aware that this decision will be financially onerous for the families of many students. Note that the state has committed to funding the increase for all students with a family income of less than R600 000. Wits will, however, do all that it can to seek bursaries and scholarships for as many students as is possible.

The University administered approximately R1 billion in financial aid, scholarships or bursaries in 2016, assisting approximately 22 000 students (out of 37 000 students). We will again endeavour to mobilise resources from the state, the corporate sector and our own funds to assist as many students as is possible in 2017.

Wits’ pledge to free education

The University remains committed to working towards achieving access to quality, free higher education as per the draft pledge that it was willing to adopt in October 2016. This goal however can only be realised at a systemic level when the financing of higher education is completely reorganised.

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