South African universities are facing challenging times which are compounded by the deteriorating economic climate.
That the sector is in the middle of a campaign for low or no fee has not helped.
The nation-wide student campaign is essentially a manifestation of what is widely seen as an incomplete socio-economic democratic project of realising a more equal and just society that is the promise of the South African Constitution.
However, it has now become urgent, thrust onto the national stage through the self-organization and agency of students as they challenged uneven access to higher education due to unaffordable fees.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) prides itself on its positioning as a dynamic African university that offers a diverse range of quality educational opportunities, and has always been committed to heeding the call for transformation.
South African universities, including NMMU, carry increased costs annually due to, among other things, increasing student numbers in the continued bid to widen access for students across all economic spheres. All this while government grants continued on the decline.
It is therefore becoming increasingly difficult for the University to continue to effectively operate on the current fee structure, which has remained the same for two consecutive years.
Taking stock of the 2016 year, the knock-on financial effect of decisions taken at the start of the student fee protests in 2015 – which included debt relief and financial support for poor and missing middle students – have hit University coffers quite hard.