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