Fee increases only for "Rich" Students... Will they stay? Will they pay?

2016-10-08 15:00

Last week the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) announced their fees increase for next year. Read about it here: CPUT Fees Increases 2017. Their plan is an 8% fees increase for the 10% "rich" students. The "rich" students are those whose families earn R600 000 per year and more. All of this in reaction to Fees Must Fall, now in its second year.

The 10% "rich" students will contribute R26 million to the CPUT budget. They are about 3 000 students. That leaves CPUT R94 million short next year. 90% Of students will get a 0% fees increase. For the second year in a row.

If Fees Must Fall was about fees increases, then, as Tabitha Bailey said about Unisa, the students have achieved their goal. No fees increase for 90% of students must be a huge victory... IF you were aiming at achieving no fees increases.

However, I think that Fees Must Fall is about free education. And a zero percent fees increase does not mean that you are studying for free.

What happens next?

Maybe the "rich" students and their parents are happy to pay more than the other students. But I suspect, not.

It is easy to be for or against a political or social idea. A "Like" on Facebook takes very little effort. But the real test is when it starts costing you money, or risk the future of your own child. So, we shall see if those parents and those students are willing to pay more.

Here are the consequences I predict...

"Rich" students will find loopholes and become poor overnight.

Students will learn about the transportability of academic credits (hint: you can't just move to a different university).

A lack of funds will mean that Universities have to "cut their cloak according to their cloth".

First the "rich" students, and eventually all students looking for quality education, will abandon the traditional universities and go private.

Moving between Universities

The "rich" students and their parents will start looking around for alternatives. Since they have to pay more, they will try and find better education for their money. And they will find more and more accredited and recognized private higher education institutions happy to take on their kids.

The problem is that a student who has finished one or two years at one institution, will not automatically be able to continue their studies at a different institution. These students are about to discover that their academic credits are not very transportable. If you finished two years of a degree at CPUT, you cannot simply walk into the third year of that degree at a different university.

This lack of transportability of academic credits will keep most of these students captive in the institutions where they have started their studies.

Proving you are "poor"... proving you are "rich"...

Once they realize they are held hostage because it is so difficult to move to a different institution without starting over, they will get creative.

They will discover all kinds of loopholes to "prove" that they are, in fact, NOT "rich".

Have you ever been to an Animal Clinic where pensioners get charged much less, or even nothing when their pets are ill? Saw how many pensioners are sitting there with their sick pets? Ever wondered how many of those pensioners are there with a pet that actually belongs to a child or grandchild...

Maybe CPUT will get those 3 000 students to pay the increases... Maybe many of them will turn out to not be "rich" after all. And the R26 million you plan to get from them might just turn out to be less... How much less we shall find out next year. I wonder if the Universities have units in place to investigate students and their parents when those students claim to be from poor families...

Less money means less "university"

The universities already said that they are under severe financial strain. Read what outgoing University of the Free State vice chancellor Jonathan Jansen says here: Another 0% Fee Increase Will Destroy SA Universities.

Without adequate funding the universities will urgently have to start cutting their costs.

At some point those cost cuttings will mean a reduction in what the University offers and how they offer it. They will offer fewer courses, and find ways to offer them at lower costs. As they scale back to get their costs in line with smaller budgets, they will dispense with things that students value.

Students starting University in 2017

These changes have already made universities less attractive. Especially to those "rich" students. Who will find that South Africa has many respected Private Higher Education Institutions where they are treated like valued customers. I predict that matric students starting their post-matric studies next year, are already looking very hard for alternatives to the traditional universities.

Is Fees Must Fall over?

The final consequence is what will happen if the students who have been agitating for two years for free education, is not satisfied with the results they have achieved (0% fees increases).

Their agitation can increase. Making universities unsafe. And making parents look for places where their children can study without interruptions to the academic program and exams. The image of students interrupting an exam and ripping up exam papers will stay with me for a very long time.

Look at our school system. The "rich", as well as anyone else who can get the money together, is sending their children to private schools. In 2002 only 0,4% of school children were exempted from school fees. Twelve years later 65% of scholars went to No-Fees Schools. See more children attending no fee schools. In the process we have seen private schools becoming more and more affordable. If you are a school-fee paying parent, then in some cases you can put your child in a private school for very close to the same fees that you are already paying in a government school. Private schools are certainly no longer just for the "rich".

Now do your own research on the growth in private schools from 2002 till now...

To support other people's ideals for free education; does not equate to the willingness to risk the education and future of your OWN children... I suspect.

All this makes me think of the "story" about the professor who gave his whole class the average mark for a test. This never really happened, but is interesting reading (grin).

Onwards to the first private universities...

About the Author

Jan Badenhorst works as the CEO of Skills Academy. Skills Academy offers Home Study Courses to people who never completed Matric, or who cannot get entry into Universities.



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