South African cost of higher education on the rise

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Recently available studies clearly show proof of the fact that the cost of higher education is on the rise in South Africa escalating on average somewhere between 8 and 12 percent. Based on research the most costly courses to study in South Africa include accounting, engineering, medicine, nursing and fine art.

The escalating cost of education comes during a period when local institutions are experiencing rising operating costs, shrinking state subsidies, together with an exploding student debt problem running into hundreds of millions.

The increasing costs of electricity, municipal and insurance costs has triggered fees at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) to rise an average of 7 percent. Amongst other variables placing pressure on educational institution’s budget include things like fuel for student shuttle services, audit charges as well as the maintenance of infrastructure and information technology services.

Bad debts for 2011 at Durban University of Technology currently stands at R38.6m while students at the moment owe the university more than R166.8 million in late fees.

The more popular courses will cost new students anywhere between R19 000 and R30 000 for first-year tuition. The more expensive courses include journalism (R24 160), emergency medical services (R19 080), nursing (R29 990) and human resources (R24 810).

New students receive a break and do not have to pay the registration fee however they are required to pay their first fee installment upon registration – (R1 980 for semester students and R3 220 for annual students). For all those students who opt to reside at local residence will have to deal with a further cost averaging between R16 200 to R19 700 annually.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal, is also planning to implement an increase in tuition fees (12%) and accommodation fees (9%) in part is a result of annual inflation. To study architecture in 2012 cost R27 100, social work R26 680, law R23 200 and education R21 510. On campus accommodation costs ranged anywhere between R9 662 to R10 000 a semester. UKZN students do not pay any extra fees upon registration however they need to pay a deposit towards the total cost of their studies and accommodation costs.

The Mangosuthu University of Technology is following the same pattern with a 9% increase in fees.

On average, the University of the Witwatersrand will increase it fees for the upcoming year by roughly 8 percent. The primary reason behind the most recent fee increases a consequence of declining government funding to rising printing costs. The university is hoping to boost third stream income to alleviate the increasing student fees.

Third-stream income is comprised of earnings from research, donations, and investments. Others costs increases were a result of the weaker local currency and necessity to purchase textbooks and specialized equipment from abroad. The cost of books, electronic journals, running laboratories, electricity as well as maintenance outstripped inflation.

An engineering degree in 2012 cost R30 630, education R20 810, accounting R33 296, while medicine price tag was R43 520. Accommodation costs at Wits varied based on the individual residence, the number of people sharing, and whether or not meals were provided. Accommodation costs ranged between R18 000 per student sharing (excluding meals) to R37 700 for students preferring their own room with 19 full meals a week.

First-year tuition costs at the University of Cape Town in 2013 for degree programmes ranged from R39 500 to R51 000 for ambitious accountants, R44 000 to R46 000 for engineers and R42 500 for fine arts students.

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