Solutions Are Needed To Lighten The Burden of Student Debt

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Student debt currently stands at R16.5 billion, making it a burden that weighs heavily on both students and institutions of higher learning. As it continues to be on the increase, a solution that will work for those affected is much needed at this point in time.

 


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At the beginning of the previous academic year, student protests mushroomed in most tertiary institutions. In some of these institutions, students and student representatives shared that this was due to some students being unable to register due to financial blocks resulting from unpaid fees. 

According to Universities South Africa (Usaf), student debt has reached an overall of R16.5 billion and needs a national solution. Some stakeholders in the Higher Education sector have questioned whether this amount was a true reflection of funds owed by students or whether it included interest calculated from those who have passed on. 

In a statement, Usaf’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Phethiwe Matutu, stated:

Student debt threatens the future sustainability of Higher Education Institutions.

In a Higher Education briefing on the state of readiness for the 2023 academic year, stakeholders raised concerns regarding this challenge, also pointing out that the model used was not changed, and the ever-increasing debt would inevitably cripple the system.

According to Matutu, the cost of debt is about R1.5 billion per annum which could be directed towards infrastructure development and/or growing the academic system. 

Student debt has become the source of student anguish and upheaval at the beginning of each year.

The South African Union of Students (Saus) has indicated an urgency for the Higher Education parliamentary Portfolio Committee to sponsor a motion to Parliament on the clearance of student debts.

The union’s spokesperson, Asive Dlanjwa has also indicated that student debt has led to a high dropout rate because students are left with no other option but to find employment whilst studying in order to pay their study fees.

 

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