South African universities will be allowed to determine their own fees increases for 2017, according to a report by the City Press.
The report stated that university councils will be able to determine their own fee hikes – a move which could result in student riots and protests.
A senior executive in the Department of Higher Education told the City Press that they cannot determine university fee increases, as they do not have legal authority over the institutions’ financial decisions.
The universities will reportedly increase fees by 8%, while Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande wants it to be capped at 6%.
This follows a decision last year by the government to force universities to implement a 0% fee increase.
“I think the minister must just give in to the 8%. There is very little difference between his 6% and the vice-chancellors’ 8%,” said the official.
“In any case, students don’t want any increment, so it matters little to them if it is 6% or 8%.”
Another 0% fee increase will mean the “beginning of the end” for public universities in South Africa, Jonathan Jansen, rector of the University of the Free State, recently warned.
While experts warn that a 0% fee increase is not sustainable, students have stated that a fee increase will lead to disruptions at universities.
“If the minister makes an announcement of a fee increase somewhere between 6 and 8%, already far below the actual costs of higher education expenditure in each university, the public higher education institutions will hobble their way into the next academic year,” said Jansen.
“If, as expected, students protest in response to the announcement, as some have promised, shut down the universities and further make 2017 a gap year, then it is over.”
Student leaders say they are not prepared to contemplate any fee increase.