Universities Set To Increase Accommodation And Tuition Fees

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The cost of tertiary education in South Africa often leads to the financial exclusion of learners hoping to enter the world of higher education. 


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The cost of tertiary education in South Africa often leads to the financial exclusion of learners hoping to enter the world of higher education. 

South Africa’s 26 public universities could be allowed to increase the cost of fees by 4.3% while the cost of accommodation will rise by 6.3%. This offer has been sent to universities by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande

The universities were hoping to introduce an increase of 5% for fees and 7% for accommodation. The proposal made by universities last year sparked protests among students. 

Universities South Africa says the less than expected increases will place institutions of higher learning under financial pressure.

Universities South Africa Director of Operational Support, Dr Linda Meyer says the increases will require the universities to recalibrate their financial strategies. 

Meyer does add that these increases will be felt most by members of the so-called ‘missing middle’. She adds that 20% of people who fall into this category do not have a way of sustainably funding their studies. 

However on the flip side, universities are currently owed in excess of R15 Billion in student fees. This debt costs universities approximately R1 billion per year to service. 

Meyer adds that it is therefore not an isolated request to be allowed to increase fees. She says a solution must be found to ensure that universities are not servicing historic debt but also to support individuals who fall in the missing middle. 

“Whether it is a payback model, whether it is a low interest loan, whatever that solution is we certainly are working on that and we are very hopeful that for the 2023 academic year, we will have something in place” declared Meyer. 

What is the missing middle ? 

The ‘missing middle’ are students who come from households with a combined annual income of more than R350 000. 

Being above the R350 000 annual income thresholds eliminates students from qualifying for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas). Nsfas bursaries are government funded and cover tuition costs, food costs, travel allowances and accommodation costs. 

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