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University Fees Are Not Being Raised at South African Universities, Nzimande Says

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University Fees Are Not Being Raised at South African Universities

University Fees Are Not Being Raised at South African Universities, Nzimande Says. In anticipation of the 2024 academic year, where over a million students are gearing up for higher education, concerns arise as expenses are expected to surpass those of the previous year. The primary contributor to this increase is the proposed rise in fees.

Minister Nzimande Rejection of Fee Hike Allegations

Contrary to reports circulating in the media, Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande firmly denies claims of approving fee hikes in South African tertiary institutions. Speculations suggested a potential approval of a 4.5% increase in tuition fees and a 6.5% rise in residence fees. Minister Nzimande asserts that he lacks the authority to determine fees, emphasizing that this power lies with the University Councils.

Minister Role and Guidance in Fee Determination

Minister Nzimande clarifies that his role is to provide guidance within a socio-economic framework, aiming to safeguard students, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. While he cannot set fees, the Department typically provides universities with a yearly framework to guide their fee structure determination.

Disappointment with Misinformation

Expressing disappointment, Nzimande criticizes organizations and media outlets for making public statements without understanding the fee determination process. The Higher Education Department remains committed to enhancing public understanding of the higher education system.

Impact of Fee Increases on “Missing-Middle” Students

The potential fee hikes pose a disproportionate impact on “Missing-Middle” students, whose household income falls between R350,000 and R600,000 annually. Excluded from NSFAS assistance, these students struggle to cover their university fees.

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Student Criticism and Concerns

Anganathi Jack, a Wits University SRC member, criticizes the minister’s proposal as ill-informed and financially burdensome. With students already facing challenges during the registration process, those with outstanding debts may find it harder to continue their studies if fees increase. The SRC acknowledges the operational costs universities incur but warns that even NSFAS-funded students may face difficulties in covering these increases.

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Conclusion

The ongoing debate over potential fee hikes raises concerns about the accessibility of higher education for various student groups, emphasizing the need for transparent and informed decision-making in the fee determination process.

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