Rhodes University‚ one of SA’s top tertiary institutions, is facing financial distress and wants to cap salary increases at 5% in order to remain viable. But support service workers want an increase that is in line with inflation and wage negotiations have deadlocked. Like several other institutions around SA, Rhodes’ financial crisis appears to have been triggered by the zero-percent student fee increase for the 2016 academic year. The government placed an 8% cap on fee increases for 2017. Vice-chancellor Sizwe Mabizela said in a circular last week that a single percentage increase in the remuneration bill is equivalent to R4m. "The current offer thus translates into an additional R20m in salaries. We cannot increase this budget further without placing the future of this university and the academic project in serious jeopardy," said Mabizela. The institution’s situation was compounded by a high ratio of staff costs, heavy reliance on student fees and maintenance backlogs which can ...

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