Cape Town – The University of Cape Town (UCT) has on Friday announced an 8% fee increase for the 2018 academic year, adding that students coming from households with incomes below R600 000 per year will largely be protected. On top of the 8% hike, catering and residence costs are also expected to go up by 12% and 10% respectively.The residence fee increases are meant to cover the costs of expanding residence capacity, while the cost of catering in residences increased due to in-sourcing and the increased cost of labour.The decision was made by the university's council on December 9, but according to a statement, the institution was waiting for clarity on a funding policy from the Department of Higher Education and Training before making the final announcement.President Jacob Zuma announced fee-free education for students ahead of the ANC's 54th elective conference, but he failed to elaborate on a detailed plan of implementation.UCT's fee announcement comes after an initial proposal which was made public in November, which saw protests break out on the campus with students attempting to pressure Zuma to release the fees report and recommendations made by the Heher Commission.'Decision not taken lightly'The commission was set up by Zuma in 2016 after a spate of protests on campuses across the country. It was aimed at finding solutions to the fees crisis and responding to the Fees Must Fall campaign.The university says the decision was not taken lightly given the climate on campuses."The factors that determined the 8% increase were a higher education price index increase of about 7.7%, combined with an expected increase in subsidy from the state of only 4-5% – hence a need for other sources of revenue to increase slightly above inflation to try to maintain our existing expenditure base," read a statement.However, households with incomes below R600 000 per year will be protected from the increase, and those who cannot afford fees can make use of various other funding options available to them such as bursaries, financial aid, loans, National Student Financial Aid Scheme and scholarships.UCT financial aid packages as well as living allowances for those living off-campus will increase.