13/12/2016 19:15 SAST | Updated 13/12/2016 19:22 SAST

UCT Announces An 8 Percent Fee Increase For 2017

But qualifying students from families with incomes less than R600,000 per year will not have to pay any increases.

Schalk van Zuydam/AP
Students from the University of Cape Town, UCT, march on their campus demonstrating for free education in Cape Town on Monday, 3 October 2016.

The University of Cape Town on Tuesday announced an 8 percent tuition fee increase for the 2017 academic year.

The decision to increase the tuition and accommodation fees was taken during the council's last meeting on December 10, spokesperson Elijah Moholola said.

He said qualifying students from families with incomes less than R600,000 per year would not have to pay any increases.

Council approved the implementation of an 8 percent general increase in tuition fees and a 10 percent increase in accommodation fees for students with household incomes of more than R600,000 per annum.

For these students, because there had been no fee increase in 2016, it in effect amounted to a 4% increase per year for tuition and a 5% increase per year for accommodation and meals, he said.

Vice-chancellor Max Price said the challenge facing the university's leadership was balancing the institution's long-term sustainability with financial support for students who could not afford to pay.

Long-term sustainability included advancing UCT's teaching and research excellence and international reputation.

Poor protected

"This is why we have for many years now (and long before other institutions) committed significant resources to financial aid for academically deserving students from poor and working-class families, including those above the NSFAS threshold."

Qualifying students last year got financial assistance worth R126 million, which came out of UCT's budget. An additional R280 million to R300 million came from sponsors, foundations, alumni, and corporates.

Council chairperson Sipho Pityana said management intended ensuring that higher education was more affordable.

"We increase the fees reluctantly, but with current government subsidies available to us, we have no choice.

"If we do not increase fees, we simply won't be able to deliver at the same level. We are very pleased, however, that we are able to protect the poor and missing-middle students from any increases," he said.

On December 5, the University of the Witwatersrand announced its fee increase for 2017 would be limited to an average of 8 percent.