Just how much will the Wits “edge” cost you in 2016?


This week, students brought the University of the Witwatersrand to a standstill in protest against a 10,5% fee increase tabled for next year. But what exactly does the proposed increase mean to the average student? FIRDAUS KHAN breaks down how much it will cost you to get the Wits “edge”.

The first-year
Each year, Wits accepts around 5,500 first year students. If you’re planning on becoming a Witsie, your first-year fees may set you back more than you think. Because your tertiary education is beginning at a time when the rand is suffering and academic staff are set to benefit from salary increases, the 10,5% fee hike will require you to cough up no less than R3,000 extra for fees next year. Wits’ cheapest offering, the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree is currently priced at R29,620 a year. This will escalate to R32,730 as of 2016. Becoming a qualified teacher, then, will cost you no less than R130,920 over four years. If you’re taking out a loan to cover that, be prepared to pay much more before you’re debt free. The prime lending rate in South Africa is currently sitting at 9.5%.

The sciences
Aspiring biokineticists, human biologists and forensic scientists (BHSc), whose degrees already stand at an exorbitant R58,580 per year can expect to fork-out an additional R6,150 per year if they plan on pursuing an education in these fields.

The postgrad
If a career in academia is what you’re aiming for, an honours degree is the first step. An honours degree in commerce starts at R50,370, so Wits students will have to pay up to R5,288.85 more per annum merely to begin their postgrad studies.

If you’re already climbing the grad school ladder, the increase will affect you even more. A masters degree in engineering, already costs a staggering R94,880 to R98,980. In 2016, students will have to fork over an additional R10,000 on top of that.

The boarder
If you’re a student who lives in a campus residence, the proposed fee increase will affect your bank balance even more. Residence fees are set to increase by 9.4%. That means that while current students pay a minimum of R25,520 per annum to live in campus res, next year students will pay R27,918. Bear in mind that this is based on the cheapest campus accommodation available – the most expensive accommodation is priced at around R67,160 per annum.

Not only are residence fees becoming less affordable, but residence accommodation is also decreasing. One of the factors that precipitated the current protests was the university’s decision to demolish Parktown Village 2, one of its residences, as part of its expansion plans. So be prepared for some stiff competition when you try to secure a place to live next year.

Whether you dream of being an academic, a doctor or are still figuring it out, the Wits experience is about to get a whole lot pricier.

Note: All undergraduate, postgraduate and accommodation fees rates are available on the Wits website.

What are your greatest concerns as a student facing these increases? Comment below or tweet us @thedailyvox.

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  1. Good day.

    It is great that you are getting the facts out there. There are a few things that should be noted though.

    1) If a person of academic merit (Average above 75% i think) is applying for a 1st year BSc course, they will not be charged anything for the first years’ academic fees.

    2) All students who maintain an average above 70% for their undergrad are eligible for a postgraduate merit award (PGMA), this once again means that they will not have to pay any academic fees for that year. They will however have to tutor/run labs/ mark etc. for a certain number of hours during the year.

    3) Wits university currently provides around 60% of their students with financial aid. this is charged at a low interest rate (Around 2%). If said student works hard and achieves high marks they will then have their fees drastically discounted. (I know of 2 students who achieved an average above 70% for the year and had their fees reduced by 50%).

    4) Thus if a poor academically gifted student completed a BSc degree at wits starting 2015, they would receive the first years’ tuition free and a 50% discount on their accommodation, I assume an average accommodation we get to fees+accom=total cost (R0+(R45 000/2)= R22 500). For second year we assume only financial aid is granted and an 11.5% increase (((R41080+R45000)*11.5%)/2= R45627.50) and the same for the following year assuming a 10% increase (((R45804+R50145)*10%)/2= R52772).

    This will bring the total fees payable for a 3 year BSc course to around R 121 000. if you then decide to do an honours course which there is a PGMA available for it will being the total to around R 150 000.

    A student with this kind of funding will only be expected to start repaying his/her student loan back after they are employed and are earning over a certain threshold. the repayment for this is expected to be R 2500 a month, if affordable. It is also worth noting that there is no Fees/Accommodation cost to the student or students family during the time of study.

    A student that has achieved academically can expect a starting salary of R 16 000 per month after tax.

    5) Considering the above situation, it is very likely that an underprivileged student that is proving themselves academically will be able to find a bursary and subsequent employment as part of the contract.

    I myself have graduated from wits but was not Academic enough to receive the merit award and not poor enough for financial aid. so I lived with my sister and worked as a waiter. I also have a student loan in my name that I am still paying off at an interest rate of 7%. Of this I only had to pay the interest portion back during my studies.

    I am Fully against the huge Wits fees increase as I am hoping to register for a part time MSc next year but it should be shown that there are ways for gifted students to make it though.

    • These are all fantastic opportunities for gifted and hardworking students, and many young South Africans including members of the Daily Vox Team have benefitted from similar programmes. Now we just have to deal with the increasing commercialisation and privatisation of tertiary education, which entrench the inequalities that allow average students from privileged backgrounds to continue their studies simply because their parents have deep pockets while average students from disadvantaged backgrounds have no alternative but to drop out. Education should not be reserved for the rich and the gifted.

    • I disagree with your first point. No such thing as free Wits. I’m a first year BSc student and I had an average of 88% and I still had to pay like everyone else. Yes I did get a discount but definitely not free. Maximum discount is 30 000.

  2. What I hate about writing like this the innuendo. Just leave a hint of impropriety, and suddenly you have merit?

    I refer to “because your tertiary education is beginning at a time when the rand is suffering and academic staff are set to benefit from salary increases”.

    Is it fault of the institution that the rand is weakening? Are you suggesting that the fees increases are inspired by greedy academics who want to fund their salary increases? Do you have any idea if the salary increases are keeping apace with inflation?

    Do you have any idea why the training pf an Education student would be cheaper than the training of for example “biokineticists, human biologists and forensic scientists”? Have you made your sums?

    Do you have any suggestions with regards to the funding of Higher Education? I mean, who must pay for the actual costs? Who? Who must fund the repeat failures?

    How much are you prepared to pay to secure your future? What investment is small enough for you?

    Finally, have you done your homework? How much more expensive is it to study in SA, than it is in other countries? Have you explored the World Bank’s data bank statistics?


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