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Rhodes University’s response to the Minister of Higher Education & Training’s statement on university tuition fee adjustments for 2017

Date Released: Mon, 19 September 2016 14:07 +0200

Rhodes University notes and welcomes the Minister's recommendations regarding university tuition fee adjustments for 2017. We particularly welcome Government's commitment to assist students who come from poor and working class families and those who come from mid-level income families. This will bring much-needed relief on these categories of students. It is important that those who can afford to pay their fees do so. Our Council will consider the Minister's recommendations in the preparation and approval of the University budget for 2017.

We note with concern that the chronic underfunding of our higher education system over many years has placed it in jeopardy. Over the past few months our public universities have had heightened anxiety on the approach that would need to be adopted on 2017 tuition fee adjustments to safeguard the sustainability of these universities. We urge all role players in higher education, including students, academic and support staff, management, the private sector and the Government to bring together their collective wisdom to help South Africa find affordable and sustainable funding mechanisms for our public higher education system. 

In light of the assertion of Section 29 (1)(b) of our Constitution  that: “Everyone has a right to tertiary education which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible[1]”, there is an urgent need to produce an intermediate and medium-term funding plan, with timelines,   and framed within the overall objective of reducing the burden of university tuition fees on students and parents while ensuring the financial sustainability of our universities.  Such a plan will provide direction and certainty regarding the future of our public higher education system.

Our university remains committed to working with Government and all other role players in ensuring that we continue to offer a quality education to our students within a financially sustainable framework, while ensuring that academically deserving students are not excluded for financial reasons.

 

Mr Vuyo Kahla                                                                      Dr Sizwe Mabizela

Chairperson of Council                                                         Vice-Chancellor

Rhodes University                                                                Rhodes University



[1] It can be argued that the decline in State funding of public higher education over the past number of years which has led to unaffordable levels of increase in student fees is in direction violation of Section 29(1)(b). Instead of making higher education “progressively available and accessible”, the State has made same inaccessible and unaffordable.

Source:Communications