19 December 2017
Stellenbosch University's response to President's student fees announcement
While clarity will be needed on quite a number of matters related to President Jacob Zuma's announcement of fee-free higher education for poor and working class households, registration at Stellenbosch University (SU) for the 2018 academic year will continue as planned.
Online registration for 2018 will open on 12 January 2018 for first-year and senior students. First-year students can register on campus as from 26 January 2018. Registration of first-year and senior students for 2018 closes on 2 February 2018. Please check the Registration Schedule 2018 for specific dates and times applicable to the respective faculties and programmes, and consult the SU website for further information. As the University receives more clarity or updated information regarding the President's announcement, it will be uploaded to the website: www.sun.ac.za and www.sun.ac.za/welcome for new first-year students.
PRESIDENT'S ANNOUNCEMENT RAISES CONCERNS
The President's statement raised concerns in the higher education sector regarding the funding sources and long-term sustainability of such financial support in the current economic climate, and the provision of gap funding. He mentioned limitations that may be placed on fee increases to limit the extent of gap funding payable to universities. A reduction in the amount of the gap funding received from government could have a severe impact on university budgets.
South African public universities are responsible for setting the level and annual adjustment of student fees, which are then approved by the councils of these universities. The implication of the President's announcement for this aspect of the governance of public universities is unclear and would require resolution prior to registration. It is also extremely important that such an ambitious project should be administered very professionally in the interest of all students, especially where it is said to be implemented as from 2018 for new first-year students.
BASELINE INCREASE OF 8%
SU earlier announced an 8% baseline increase in study fees in 2018 for all current students, with varying additional increases per faculty, based on the respective value propositions, for new students registering next year.
Many uncertainties would have to be resolved before Stellenbosch University will be able to provide more detailed information to prospective first-year students or current students, or know what the impact will be on the institution's 2018 budget. Click here for the estimated study fees per programme for the first year of study.
SU again emphasized that fee increases would be mitigated through financial support. Stellenbosch University firmly believes that students from families, who can afford higher education, should pay study fees whereas poor students should not be excluded based on financial challenges.
SU remains committed to support financially needy, academically deserving students. Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of SU, has repeatedly acknowledged the inequalities of the South African society. Affluent and upper middle-income groups can afford university education either outright or with access to loans from the financial sector. However, a large component of students from low-income households have limited or no access to the financial sector, and are not in a position to contribute to the funding of their study and accommodation fees.
FEE INCREASE MITIGATED THROUGH FINANCIAL SUPPORT
“Therefore SU supports and follows a differentiated approach. The impact of the market-related fee increases for 2018 will be mitigated through financial support to academically deserving poor students linked to their combined annual household income. SU's own bursaries will also be aligned with increases in tuition and accommodation fees," Prof De Villiers said.
SU manages a portfolio of bursaries and loans that provide financial support to students. This financial aid includes a substantial contribution from SU's main budget, as well as from current and past donations. It is an unfortunate reality that the need for financial support will always exceed the available funds. In 2016, Stellenbosch University administered a total of R725 million (R659 million in 2015) in bursaries: R283 million as agent (including for NSFAS); and R442 million (R403 million in 2015) from its own funds and research contracts, of which R129 million was allocated from its main budget. In 2016, 23% of students enrolled at SU were supported through bursaries.
Because of limits imposed on assistance provided by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), SU in 2017 supported students from families who earn between R122 000 and R240 000 per year - those from the so-called 'missing middle'. The amount of the bursary is determined through a 'means test'.
A differentiated study fees structure for international students will be introduced from 2018, when certain categories of international students registering at SU will be charged an international tuition fee (ITF) for the first time. The ITF comprises an additional fixed amount charged annually for the duration of an academic programme and is payable in full at or prior to registration. The ITF will not apply to international students enrolled in doctoral programmes, or in postgraduate programmes delivered on the telematics platform, or international students with SADC (Southern African Development Community) citizenship or permanent residence in South Africa.
The base ITF is set at R43 380 for international students from outside Africa enrolled for bachelors, honours and postgraduate diploma programmes, and R21 690 for those from outside Africa enrolled for master's programmes. A reduced amount of R20 520 will apply to students from African countries outside SADC enrolled for bachelors, honours and postgraduate diploma programmes.
#SU99 TO ALLEVIATE STUDENT DEBT
Stellenbosch University will continue with its own initiatives aimed at alleviating student debt and raising funds for bursaries, for example its pre-centenary fundraising campaign #SU99. Recent generous donations to support the cause of alleviating student debt at SU exceeded the initial R99 999 target, providing the impetus to reach further and increase the target to R999 999.
"As of 1 December, donations received on the GivenGain platform amounted to R24 000, and donations from alumni, and staff and students have all added a further R32 500 to the campaign," says Karen Bruns, Senior Director of the Development and Alumni Relations Division. “A significant donation of R500 000, received from one of our loyal major donors who regularly provides top-up bursary funding, has enabled us to raise the bar to help more graduates."
"Although many of our students have received bursary support from various partners such as government, foundations, corporates and trusts, there is often still an outstanding amount that is owed by students upon graduation," says Cheryl Benadie, Donor Relations Manager at SU.
Graduation marks the end of an incredible journey for any graduate as they stand on the threshold of new beginnings, armed with a well-earned degree from SU, an internationally recognised institution.
"Sadly, for some of our first generation graduates, who will enter the world of work as a first generation professional, the weight of debt that they carry on their shoulders as they try to make a fresh start can seem overwhelming. We acknowledge and appreciate the support of all our donors and partners. The need is ongoing," she adds.
Donations can be made via the GivenGain platform: https://goo.gl/AaTm2q or via credit card on our online portal: https://goo.gl/JkCM4J, EFT payments can be made via the following bank account, using the reference: Initial, surname + R2090 DEBT.
ORGANISATION NAME: University of Stellenbosch
BANK: Standard Bank
BRANCH CODE: 05 06 10
ACCOUNT NAME: University of Stellenbosch
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 073006955
PAYMENT REFERENCE: Initial, Surname, R2090 DEBT
The #SU99 campaign, launched on 20 September, will run until 27 December.
“Small donations of R50, R100, R500 etc. all add up - it is the power of collective giving in action. We urge you to please consider giving the gift of financial freedom this festive season," Benadie concludes.
- For more information on SU's campaign to alleviate student debt, please contact: Cheryl Benadie on tel: 021 808 9351 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org/ Anneke Muller on tel: 021 808 9906 or e-mail: email@example.com.