International students have criticised the Wits fee policy that requires payment in full by registration while the university says its hands are tied by government regulations.

Wits requires international students to pay all tuition and residence fees in full before, or on the day of, registration. The Wits fees policy states: “All fees are due and must be paid in full (Excludes Refugees) before an International Clearance is issued by the Wits International Office.”

Deputy vice-chancellor of finance and operations, Patrick Fitzgerald, said the university is following regulations set down by the department of home affairs.

“The regulations are discriminatory for international students but the discrimination is fair as its standard practice in most, if not all, countries. They are therefore in line with international practices.”

Some international students are unhappy about this policy. “This policy is unfair because they are working on an assumption that all international students are on sponsorships but some of us are not,” Genius Tevera from Zimbabwe said.

Another student, Johnson Senna, a Masters in interactive media design student from Ghana could not afford to pay R47 000 residence fee, R20 120 registration fee and R30 000 for the units he registered for. He now shares a flat in Mildridge and pays R2 450 monthly.

Students who are at Wits for a few months are also required to pay accommodation fees for the whole year. “I am only going to be here for only two months, paying for the whole year is ridiculous,” said Prisca Kamungi. Wits will refund her but they usually take time to do so, she said.

Leatile Seemule thinks the policy puts a lot of pressure on international students like him as he can only afford certain things like rent monthly.

Senna said staying off campus is inconvenient as his flat is study unfriendly as his flat mates sometimes play loud music.

“I would stay at International house if I were given an opportunity to pay in instalments as it is secure and I will be able to have group discussions with my classmates,” said Senna.

Some international students have sponsorships. Felix Urban, a 1st year student who has a sponsorship is not affected by the policy but he wonders how other students afford to pay such amounts of money.

Fitzgerald said most Wits bursaries are for South African students. An international student is defined as a student who is not a national or permanent resident of South Africa at the time of registration.