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Student fees


​Differentiated 2018 fees structure discussed at SU student forums​, 11 October 2017

For the 2018 financial year, Stellenbosch University (SU) proposes a differentiated study fees structure: differentiating between current students already in the system, and new students entering next year; and between the various faculties and modules within faculties. Similarly, SU will introduce a differentiated study fees structure for certain categories of international students from 2018.

Over the past weeks, members of the SU management and staff from the Finance division have been in discussion with students regarding student fees and the new differentiated structure in various student leadership forums and representative institutional committees. 

Current undergraduate and postgraduate students will have an 8% baseline increase in study fees in 2018, whereas the new differentiated fees, with varying additional increases per faculty, based on the respective value propositions, will be phased in for new students as from 2018.

The proposed increase for student accommodation in 2018 is 9,2% which includes R4,2 million for additional security patrols around University residences.  Meal quotas in residences are set to increase by 8%.

The objective of the 8% fee increase is to ensure the institution's long-term financial sustainability, world-class academic qualifications and research output, and to ensure a consistent and significant positive impact on society. A number of factors has necessitated the varying proposed additional increases: the financial sustainability of SU's value proposition, government's expected new subsidy formula, the once-off rectification of module fees or additional costs due to module restructuring, and substantially lower study fees compared to other institutions in some academic programmes.

Increases mitigated through financial support

Amidst the fee increases, 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.

“Therefore Stellenbosch University 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), Stellenbosch University 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'.The 0% fees increase for 2016 has had a negative impact not only on last year, but will have a knock-on effect for a number of years. As a result, the 8% baseline increase for current students in 2018 is too low for long-term financial sustainability. That is why SU has opted for a differentiated approach.

Government subsidies for higher education have fallen behind costs increases over a number of years. The annual increase in subsidies fell behind the average increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) of around 6%, but more importantly behind the Higher Education Price Index (HEPI - which measures cost increases in the sector). The Higher Education Price Index has typically increased by about 1,7% more than the CPI per year due to the high costs of research equipment and technology, accreditation and statutory requirements, international research publications and maintaining world-class facilities. This is especially true for institutions such as Stellenbosch University that focus on research and postgraduate study.

International students

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.

​The budget process and discussions with the campus community are set to continue over coming weeks. The final budget for 2018 will be tabled for approval at the last Council meeting towards the end of November 2017. 


Stellenbosch University supports 8% income increase for 2017

1. Introduction

Stellenbosch University (SU) supports the higher education sectoral approach outlined in the Universities South Africa (USAf) statement that universities require a minimum increase of 8% in their annual income for 2017. This income could come from a variety of sources including state subsidy, student fees and a complex array of other private sources of funding. A university income increase below 8% for 2017 is likely to compromise the financial position of at least 17 of the 26 public higher education institutions in South Africa.

Due to various factors, including the slow economic growth rate in the country, increasing demands on government resources and decades of funding backlogs, Stellenbosch University is of the opinion that fee-free higher education currently is not feasible.  Studies have also shown that in the developing world fee-free higher education has tended to benefit the upper middle class and very affluent sectors of the population rather than the poor. 
Stellenbosch University supports and follows a differentiated approach: fee increases that are mitigated through financial support to academically deserving poor students related to the joint annual household income. SU bursaries also are aligned with increases in tuition and accommodation fees.

This web page provides valuable information on the financial situation in higher education; the budget process at Stellenbosch University and how we support our students; comparisons of student fees at various universities; factors that impact on income increases; the allocation of bursaries; the impact of the 0% fee increase on SU and the next steps towards the 2017 budget.

See the sections below for detailed information:

2. Making sense of funding in the SA higher education sector

3. Stellenbosch University’s value proposition

4. How SU supports our students


5. Student fees at Stellenbosch University

    6. Budget scenarios 2017


7. Impact of 2016 #feesmustfall campaign and 0% increase

8. Current initiatives and next steps


Universities SA issues statement on leaked 'Fees Commission' report, 30 October 2017​

​In a statement released on Sunday 29 October 2017 Universities South Africa (USAf) has expressed concern about the manner in which the final report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education Funding and Related Issues  (Fees Commission) has been brought to the public's attention. The report by the Commission, chaired by Justice J.A. Heher,  was leaked to a newspaper over the weekend.