The government’s decision against free education and the suggestion of an up to 8% fee increase for 2017, sparked a month of disruptive student protest on university campuses nationwide. With pressure being put on universities to make their fee structures for the next academic year known, most of the institutions have thus far adopted radio silence. This, until yesterday when the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) announced a 0% increase for 2017.
“The Tshwane University of Technology’s Council last week resolved at a special meeting that no TUT student will experience any fee adjustment in 2017,” stated TUT.
Students and management also signed a memorandum of agreement that the academic programme would continue peacefully, reported EWN.
Earlier this year, the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, announced that government would provide support to higher education institutions to ensure that NSFAS qualifying students, as well as the “missing middle” from households with an income of less than R600 000 per year, will not be exposed to any fee adjustments in 2017.
“At TUT this ‘missing middle’ group is estimated to account for approximately 90% of the University’s student population. To ensure that no TUT student experiences a direct fee increment, the self-funded students, who account for an estimated 10% of the University’s student body, will also be assisted by the University. This means that no TUT student will experience any fee adjustment next year. Fees will remain the same as they were in 2015,” added TUT.
It was also agreed that all financially needy and academically deserving students will not be excluded because of historic debt.
“As a “People’s University” we understand the plight of the majority of students, who without financial support would never be able to fulfil their dream of obtaining a university qualification. The University therefore supports the move towards fee-free education.
“The University continues to participate in the Fees Commission and is eagerly awaiting the report in August 2017, which will hopefully provide a lasting solution to the call for fee-free quality higher education for poor and working class students,” TUT said.
While concern that a 0% increase may result in university employee cuts and result in a lack in various course funding structures, continue to loom, the university remains confident in their decision.
The question now arises as to whether or not this will in turn spark a similar decision from other universities, and what this means for the economic landscape of the country.
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