Max Price.  Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN
Max Price. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN

On Friday, the University of Cape Town (UCT) announced a tuition increase of 8%‚ along with a 10% hike for accommodation at all residences and a 12% rise for residence meal options in 2018.

Students on financial assistance will not be affected by the tuition increase.

Vice-chancellor Max Price said the university had delayed the announcement "in the hope that we might have received greater clarity from the Department of Higher Education and Training on the implications of the President’s statement on funding and fees. Unfortunately‚ there is still considerable uncertainty on whether, and how, the policy announced by the President will be introduced."

"The decision to increase tuition and residence fees at UCT was not taken lightly‚ especially in the current atmosphere on university campuses across SA‚" Price said in a letter to students and lecturers."

The increases are in line with those at other universities as indicated in a previous statement from Universities SA. Households with incomes below R600‚000 a year will largely be protected from the increase.

However‚ Price said, "There remains little clarity at this stage on how the President’s announcement on free education for first-time, entering South African undergraduates with household incomes below R350‚000 will be implemented, and whether it will be possible to do so before the necessary systems have been developed.

"We will communicate with students as soon as we have clearer guidelines from the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) and the department."

For students from households earning above the NSFAS income threshold‚ but below household incomes of R600‚000 a year‚ "UCT will continue‚ as in the past‚ to make available financial aid‚ mostly in the form of loans (what we call the Gap funding model)"‚ Price said.

He believed it was likely that the department would cover the 8% increase for students in the Gap group. "Taking this into account‚ the UCT financial aid packages will increase by the amount required to ensure the out-of-pocket costs [for] NSFAS and Gap students do not increase. Living allowances for those living outside the UCT residence system will also increase."

The additional financial aid is funded from a combination of sources, including NSFAS‚ the philanthropy of alumni and foundations‚ and corporations providing bursaries.

Price said: "Depending on clarification from the department‚ the net effect of this is that students from these income brackets will be paying the same in 2018 as they were in 2015‚ which amounts to a decrease in real terms (accounting for inflation in this period) of about 20%."

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