Stellenbosch University set its sights on 8% fee hike

Cape Town – Stellenbosch University student fees will increase by 8% in 2018, the university said on Wednesday. 

It comes as most South African universities said they'll be awaiting President Jacob Zuma's Fee Commission outcome before making any fee announcements. 

In a statement, Stellenbosch University said the institution's long-term financial stability and world-class academic qualifications depends on the fee increase. 

In addition to across the board 8% fee increase, student accommodation will increase by 9.2% and meal quotas in residences by 8%. 

Free higher education

Stellenbosch University Rector Wim de Villiers said the university believes that free higher education is not currently feasible in the South African setting due to slow economic growth and increasing demands on government resources. 

He said the university, therefore, supports 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," De Villiers said.

Free State’s Central University of Technology (CUT) previously announced a "preliminary 2018 budget" with a fee increase of 8%. 

Fee Commission report

Meanwhile, the University of Pretoria (UP), University of Witwatersrand, Walter Sisulu University, Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), and the University of Cape Town (UCT) indicated that they'll be awaiting the Fee Commission's report before making any fee announcements. 

UP spokesperson Rikus Delport said the university cannot announce a fee increase as the commission's report will possibly have "far-reaching consequences" for the future of university fees in South Africa. 

University of Witwatersrand spokesperson Shirona Patel said the institution can wait until December 2 until a fee announcement has to be made.

On Sunday, City Press reported that South African universities have no other choice but to come up with proposed budgets as they await the outcome of the Fee Commission. 

READ MORE: Universities initiate talks on 2018 fee increases

Centre for Higher Education Trust Director Nico Cloete said last-minute fee increase announcements often destabilised universities’ planning systems – which has been the case at several tertiary institutions the past three years.

Zuma received the Fee Commission's report in August. The commission was established after university students from across the country embarked on violent nationwide Fees Must Fall protests toward the end of 2015.

Cloete believes that Zuma might be delaying making a fee increase announcement since receiving the report “to avoid triggering another national mobilisation of students".

The ''worst time possible'' to make a fee announcement is during exams which might cause academic disruptions, Cloete said.

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