Wits fees and registration hike sparks students protests
Pictures By Clifford Derrick
International students the hardest hit
THE 449% rise in international registration fee will hit foreign students from outside the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who do not have financial aid.
The increase is viewed as “another academic apartheid imposed on poor Africans”, said a South African undergraduate who would only give her name as Mapule.Students from the 14 SADC countries pay local fees. Wtites, Clifford Derrick
Wahome Nyawira, a third-year BSc student from Kenya, said the hike plus other increments (including 9-11% on residence fees and 9% on fees) would compromise her education. “I am a self-sponsored student, my parents will not afford another R14 000 on top of the R107 000 plus other increments,” she said.Charles Nyuykonge, chair of the Postgraduate Students Association and a Phd student from Ghana, challenged management to justify the increase of fees for international students.
Draining Students From Poor Countries
“We regrettably note that in our university, fee increments is not motivated by any reasoned, logical judgment.
“It is done like a marathon and competition to meet the fees of other universities and other countries.
This is unacceptable,” said Nyuykonge.
Karen Mwaniki, a Kenyan student on an internship from the United States, questioned the rationale for grouping non-SADC African students with the rest of the world when Europe and America had strong economies compared to the rest of Africa.Instead of gaining from the strong economies, South African universities have decided to milk already disadvantaged students from Africa, she said.
Dr Cellier Riaan, deputy-director of Higher Education said the country did not discriminate against any foreign students, but pointed out that students from SADC countries were charged local fees.
Riaan noted that the universities’ decision to increase registration fees and other levies for international students was driven by market forces and not national policy.
He attributed this to the autonomy and academic freedom exercised by the universities.
Wits management argued that the R14 000 should not be misconstrued as an increase on international fees but was a new levy charged to international students.
It Is Prestige Not The Fees
According to the head of the International Office, Fazela Haniff, this would allow for better services to the students and was not a means of creating artificial barriers for non-SADC African students.
“If we want to attract more international students, and maintain the quality of education, we have to increase the premium. We feel that people come to Wits not because of the fee but because of the prestige,” argued Haniff.
She added that the international levy would only affect new postgraduate students, and not undergraduates.
KwaZulu-Natal: The Highest Charger
The University of KwaZulu-Natal charges R 9 800 for post-graduate non-SADC international students and a whopping R42 000 for undergraduate non-SADC international students, but other universities charge less.
Rhodes University charges R5 625 for undergraduate and R3 750 for post-graduate non-SADC students and is projecting a 10% increase for next year.
Cape Town, Tshwane University of Technology, Unisa and Pritoria all pay charge below R 2 500.
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