The Fees Must Fall Protests began in Johannesburg on Wednesday 14 October when the Wits student SRC organised a mass protest over a proposed 10.5 percent increase in fees. Students blockaded the entrance to the university campus in Braamfontein and all classes were cancelled.
The upfront registration fee – or first tuition payment as it’s also referred – at Wits is R9 900, which is far less than what students are expected to pay when they register at UCT or Rhodes University in Grahamstown.
It would appear that the students are basing their protests on Section 29 of the South African Constitution which states: Everyone has the right to (a) a basic education, including adult basic education; and (b) to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.
It is the definition of part (b) above that is being challenged by these students. Personally I would change the portions of the constitution that refer to ‘the state’ to more realistically reflect who is paying and to say ‘the state via the purses of the taxpayers’!
On Tuesday afternoon 20 October 2015, Minister of Higher Education and Training Blade Nzimande announced that vice chancellors had agreed to cap their fee hikes at 6% for 2016.
The South African Students Congress (Sasco) called on all students to embark on a nationwide mass action, on Wednesday 21 October 2015, against fee increments until their demands were met.
“The national day of mass action will continue up until all our matters are resolved … We encourage those institutions which are already on strike such as the University of the Witwatersrand, University of Fort Hare, Rhodes University and the University of Cape Town to continue their actions and further accelerate these strikes so that they are felt by the echelons of power in our institutions and in the Department of Higher Education,” said Sasco’s National Executive Committee president Ntuthuko Makhombothi.
The cost to study at NMMU depends on a variety of factors – which course, which modules, whether you stay in Res or at home. Allied to that is the cost of books which vary greatly according to the direction in which students study.
The upfront costs are more easily determined and consist of:
Application fees – ranging from:
- R0.00 (for online applications) to
- R100.00/R150.00 (for manual applications) to
- R500.00 (for manual international applications)
The 2015 down payments payable before registration:
- Degree programmes, Postgraduate diplomas and Occasional studies – R6 200 (full time) and R3 500 (part time)
- Diploma / Certificate programmes – R4 300 (full time) and R2 800 (part time)
- BTECH, MTECH, DTECH MBA programmes – R4 300 (full time) and R2 800 (part time)
- Residences (Students at all campuses) – R4 500
- International Students – 100% upfront
Residence Costs range from R15 200 to R35 400 per annum.
The NMMU does offer a number of points of financial assistance, one of which is the Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship Programme. Between 25 and 30 top achievers are selected on the basis of exceptional academic merit. The Scholarship – value at R82 782 per annum – is renewable for each year of a first full-time NMMU undergraduate degree or diploma programme, provided academic performance remains of the highest standard.
Determining a set figure for specific degrees at NMMU is not an exact science.
There does seem to be a great disparity in fees per degree over tertiary institutions as these estimate show:
- Bcomm – from R15 400 (Unisa) to R62 000 (University of Cape Town)
- BSc – from R15 300 (Unisa) to R52 400 (University of Pretoria)
- BA – from R13 900 (Unisa) to R46 000 (University of Cape Town)
The estimated costs of a degree in other countries also varies greatly *:
- United States – R333 745
- Australia – R322 586
- United Kingdom – R286 203
- Singapore – R253 678
- Canada – R224 327
- Hong Kong – R180 094
- Indonesia – R58 647
- China – R51 493
- Taiwan – R44 715
- Malaysia – R32 860
- Turkey – R17 093
- Mexico – R10 046
- India – R7 783
* Based on a Dollar Rand Exchange rate of R13.40 to the Dollar
It would appear then that South Africa compares favourably with Indonesia, China and Taiwan in terms of fees per degree.
Worrying for all parents and students is that according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York – which in 2013 found that America’s student debt burden was rapidly approaching $1 trillion – student loan debt is the only form of consumer debt that has grown since the peak of consumer debt in 2008.
Imagine leaving University with a debt of over R300 000.00 plus interest and having to service that from your first job which will only pay enough to keep you in food and rent!
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