The University of the Witwatersrand is heading for its first deficit in more than 11 years as its council faces a standoff with the government over the registration of students with ballooning historic debt. Vice-chancellor Adam Habib said the institution was owed more than R405m. Of this amount, students owed R208m, the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) owed R67m and donors who defaulted on pledges owed R46m at the end of last year. The institution’s costs had also risen after it started taking contract staff in-house, with operational costs running up to about R300m a month. A trend of nonpayment had appeared among those who could and could not afford to pay university fees, Habib said. Other universities such as Stellenbosch and University of Cape Town (UCT) had healthy surpluses at the end of 2015. It is still to be seen if this trend has affected them too.Habib said the government had asked universities to let those with historic debt register and enter into a payme...

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