Freeze on fees


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.”

Wits upfront registration fee set to move beyond ten thousand rands in 2015

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Wits students can start saving for next year as there is a proposed increase to  the upfront payment fee. Photo: Luca Kotton

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Wits students can start saving for next year as there is a proposed increase to the upfront payment fee. Photo: Luca Kotton

Witsies are going to have dig deeper into their pockets in 2015 with the proposed upfront payment fee increasing to  R10 270.00.

The fee, currently at  R9340.00, entails a R930.00 increase which is needed by Wits according to university registrar, Carol Crosley. “The universities costs at the beginning of the year are very high,” she said. Crosley added that the registration fee was needed largely due to the department of higher education only providing a portion of their funding at the beginning of April every year and the rest during the start of September.

The SRC (Student Representative Council), though believes the fee is too high and remains opposed to the proposed increase. Shafee Verachia,  SRC president said, “We are in the process of doing extensive modelling to see what the process of that upfront payment purpose is and our opposition is that it is to exorbitant and should remain the same. Relative to our peers the upfront fee payment is ridiculous.”

Two years ago Wits started an Upfront Payment Plan (UPP) for students who couldn’t afford the initial registration fee. The students utilising the UPP would only pay half of the registration fee and would still be able to register, the rest of the registration fees would go on their fee statement and could be paid off during the year.

Students on bursaries would have their registration fees waived if a letter by the donor was received by Wits and would then be expected to pay the full tuition fee by 31 March.

School-leavers entering Wits for the first time could avoid paying the registration fee all together if their Grade 12 results were sufficient to secure a university entrance scholarship, which would cover the registration fee in some cases.

Professor Tawana Kupe, deputy vice-chancellor (finance) of the university, told Wits Vuvuzela that the “university finances are stable but the university does not have the funds to do everything it wants to do.”

Typically the upfront fee payment increases by the agreed percentage fee increase for the following academic year, which needs to go through various structures and be approved by the university council, the higest decision-making body in the university.