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Why fee increases are necessary

- By Wits University

Statement from Linda Jarvis, Chief Financial Officer: Wits University.

Following the release of the fee increases for 2016 by the Chairperson of Council, Dr Randall Carolissen, my office has been inundated with requests for information as to why these fee increases are necessary.

Some of the key reasons are:

  1. The rand-dollar exchange rate has fallen by approximately 22%, which has resulted in a substantial increase in the amount of money that we pay for all library books, journals, electronic resources research equipment that are procured in dollars and euros.
  2. Salary increases for academics are set at 7% based on a three-year cycle and these increases are necessary to ensure that we retain the best intellectual minds in the country.
  3. Generic inflation is hovering at around 6% which impacts on all other expenses that the University has to cover.
  4. Utilities are increasing at rates substantially higher than the inflation rate.

The subsidy increase from government is expected to come in at around 5% and the nett effect is that we have to make up our income to cover our expenditure in order to remain sustainable. If we do not do so, we put the quality of our academic project at risk.

We are mindful of the current economic climate and the financial strain on students and families. In light of this and following extensive consultations with the SRC and other University structures, we have reduced the average tuition fee for 2016 from 11% to 10.5%, and the upfront fee increase from 10% to 6%.

Even though two thirds (about 20 000) of our students are on bursaries, scholarships and financial aid, we are cognisant of the pressure that this places on parents and caregivers of those who have to pay their own way.

These increases are unfortunately unavoidable but we are doing all that we can, especially at the national level to look at long-term solutions to resolve the issue of student funding.