Wits: no choice in fee increment for 2017

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This year fees did not fall, they froze and next year they will continue to increase. Yesterday the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) announced that there would be a fee increase of 8 percent for 2017, saying it had no choice if it was remain financially viable.

Wits said, “The university has no choice but to increase fees if it is to remain financially sustainable.” Wits explained that a fee increment is necessary because of the running costs of the university. For 2017 Wits will accommodate the costs of insourcing.

The university also mentioned the state subsidy as another reason for why a fee increment is needed. The 0% increase for 2016 was compensated for by the state.

Wits said, “We have been recently informed that the 2016 fee increase will now be rolled into the subsidy, the net effect of which is that our subsidy increase for 2017 will be only 2.5%.” This means that Wits’ income from the state will decrease approximately by R54 million for 2017.

deficit-forecast-wits

The 2017 fee increment is 8% for tuition and residence fees. This increase also applies to international student fees. However postgraduate programmes in the Wits School of Governance will experience a 9.5% increase.

While there will be a fee increment for 2017, Wits has reiterated its pledge to free education. “The university remains committed to working towards achieving access to quality, free higher education.” For this goal to be realised, Wits said that the financing of higher education has to be reorganised at a systematic level.

Following news of a fee increment at Wits, students took to social media to express their unhappiness and anger. Busiswe Catherine Seabe, Wits Fees Must Fall leader, posted Wits’ statement on Facebook and commented on this decision. Seabe said, “If you increase fees, we will have no option but to use any and all means necessary. Where there is oppression. There WILL be resistance!”

Last year the Fees Must Fall protests resulted in a 0% increment. The protests continued this year as students want free higher education. The news of a fee increment for 2017 does not sit well with students as the above comments show. One wonders what Fees Must Fall 3.0 will look like.