by Luca Kotton and Roxanne Joseph
The upfront fee for next year will remain frozen at R9 350 but it and other fees may still increase in 2016, according to deputy vice-chancellor of finance, Prof Tawana Kupe.
The university had proposed an increase of the upfront registration fee to R10 300 from R9 350. General tuition fees will still increase.
When asked if the freeze will have an effect on the following year’s upfront fee, Kupe said, “In 2015, we will go through the normal processes for setting the various fees, including the upfront fee payment for 2016.”
The upfront fee free was the result of a long process of negotiations by the SRC which reached an agreement with the University Financial Committee (FINCO) surrounding fee increases in 2015, said SRC president Shafee Verachia.
The agreement was reached just over a week ago at a meeting with FINCO, and will be forward for approval to the University Council, which Vice-chancellor Prof Adam Habib, Verachia and Deputy Vice-chancellor, Prof Andrew Crouch, among others.
Verachia said the SRC successfully negotiated the freeze by commissioning a team of postgrad accounting and actuarial science students to investigate whether or not the upfront fee was unnecessarily high.
Kupe said the freeze is based on a further assessment made by FINCO, which has enabled them to recommend that the university is able to accommodate a freeze in the upfront fee and will not lose any income because “the freeze in the upfront fee amount is not a discount on the fees for 2015”.
He said there was recognition that some fees, such as the Health Sciences degrees, Wits has become too expensive and have been reduced. This is especially significant for international students, who were only allowed to pay their tuition fees in a set of instalments for the first time this year.
Currently, international students studying health sciences will have their fees cut by 60 percent, dropping to R74 680 from about R191 990.
The university had previously justified the increase of the upfront fee by saying it had high costs at the beginning of the year. Kupe said fee increases were necessary due to rising costs.
“Fees have to increase every year because of rising costs, the fact that our government subsidy is not rising as much as inflation and that some of our costs are related to items that are imported,” Kupe told Wits Vuvuzela.
“As you know, the rand has fallen against major currencies and this fall increases our costs. We also have to ensure we have enough financial resources to offer a quality education.”