The University of the Witwatersrand announced on Monday that there would be an 8% increase next year for tuition and residence fees for local and international students.
In a statement, the university said that it had consulted the Wits student representative council (SRC), which had been active in #FeesMustFall protests, before making the decision.
“The decision on the 2017 fee increase was recommended by management and the Financial Committee (FinCo) of the University and approved by council after consultation with the elected SRC,” Shirona Patel, spokesperson for Wits, said in a statement.
“The SRC is represented on FinCo and council and had requested a 0% increase in tuition fees for 2017. Their input was considered and deliberated extensively before the final decision was made.”
The university said it was aware of the financial strain that the increase would place on students and their families, but that there would be attempts made to locate bursary programmes for students in need.
“The university has no choice but to increase fees if it is to remain financially sustainable as academics and professional and administrative staff need to be remunerated, books and journals need to be purchased (many in foreign currency), utilities need to be paid and infrastructure needs to be maintained,” Patel said.
According to the university, a 0% hike in 2017 would mean a R191-million deficit, a 6% hike would equate to a R90-million deficit, while the 8% hike Wits will implement will result in a R56.5-million deficit.
Earlier this year, the department of higher education and training said that it recommended that universities do not implement a fee hike of above 8%. The Stellenbosch University in the Western Cape has also announced an 8% increase on fees.
Student protesters have, however, rejected proposed fee hikes, saying tertiary education should be inclusive and free to all South Africans.
The Wits SRC was not available for comment at the time of publishing.