University fees hiked

2015-01-12 00:00

INFLATION and the rising cost of providing quality tertiary education has forced some KwaZulu-Natal universities to drive up fees beyond 10%.

University of KwaZulu-Natal increased both tuition and accommodation fees by 12% this year, and the sharp rise will see parents forking out once-off registration payments of R3 750 for courses and an additional R2 750 fee for students requiring accommodation.

University spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the increment was inspired by careful consideration of the social circumstances of students and wider consultation with university stakeholders.

“Inflation has negatively affected the allocation to the university from the state, making the current tuition fees paid by students inadequate,” she said.

“It is imperative that adequate financial resources are available to ensure that our degrees remain highly competitive and respected globally.”

The institution received more than 90 000 applications for the 8 400 available spaces in the undergraduate academic programmes.

It provides accommodation for 12 086 students at on-campus and off-campus residences.

“Each year there is always more demand than supply for on-campus accommodation. To help curb the matter, the university makes use of private accommodation in and around our campuses.”

Fees at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) increased by 10% for both tuition and accommodation, and Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT) increased its fees by nine percent for tuition alone.

DUT’s registration fee has gone up to R3 420 for annual students and R2 100 for semester students.

If prospective students seek university accommodation, they will need to double the registration fee.

University registrar Professor Thenjiwe Meyiwa said the institution received 81 518 applications for just 7 200 spaces available for first-year students.

Meyiwa said the institution leases private buildings for student accommodation.

“Fees charged for accommodation in these buildings [leased] and range from R20 000 to R24 000 per annum. In the Durban Centre, DUT has 4 956 beds. In the Midlands Centre, we have 2 897 beds. These include leased beds.”

The MUT registration fee remains R2 000 for annual students and R1 000 for semester students.

Spokesperson Lan Mzimela said they received over 20 000 applications for 2 000 spaces available.

“We are ready for registration as we started preparing as early as September. We have moved to a bigger venue [for registration] and our systems are set up,” he said.

University of Zululand spokesperson Noma Zondo said fees are likely to go up, but said the council and the Student Representative Council have not met to discuss the way forward.

“Unfortunately, the issue of fees has not been finalised,” she said.

Unisa spokesperson Martin Ramotshela said they received 168 400 applications last year, made up of 93 739 new applicants, and 74 661 returning students.

“From applications received, 89 046 met the minimum requirements. All these applicants will be accommodated during the current registration period, provided they still satisfy the admission requirements.”

The universities said students can register online to avoid long queues.

Central Application Office (CAO) spokesperson George van der Ross said they processed 130 480 applications for the four KZN institutions.

Social work programmes proved popular, receiving the most applications, while information technology received the fewest.

Nearly all courses received more applications than in 2014.

UKZN received the largest chunk of applicants, with 87 493 forms already processed.

Zululand had 82 824, DUT received 81 518, while MUT had 40 817.

The DA has urged Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande to request emergency funding from Treasury to aid the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), to support incoming first-year students.

Previously, the department said it would provide R10,2 billion this year in funding through NSFAS to tertiary institutions.

However, Professor Belinda Bozzoli, DA shadow minister of Higher Education, said it would not be enough.

“We estimate that an additional R1 billion in emergency funding will be needed to support those students who achieved bachelor passes to go to university,” she said.

As students are desperate to find places at tertiary institutions, the IFP warned first-time entrants to be wary of bogus higher learning institutions.

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said students and parents must do thorough background checks of institutions “making very bold promises”.

“They are nothing but fly-by-night institutions hell bent on taking advantage of poor and desperate people.”

He urged the Department of Higher Education and Training to publish a comprehensive list of all accredited institutions of higher education to assist and protect students.

The Sunday Times reported yesterday that President Jacob Zuma called on tertiary institutions not to increase fees for this year.

“We are concerned at the escalating costs of tertiary educations and annual raising of fees by universities and other institutions of higher learning,” Zuma was quoted as saying.

“This escalating cost has become another source of exclusion for the poor and vulnerable South African child.

“While we appreciate the autonomy of universities, we must caution universities against excluding students on the basis of price and race.”

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