Proposed university fee increases for South Africa in 2021

Higher Education, Science and Innovation minister Dr Blade Nzimande says government will further regulate the country’s tuition fees in an effort to make them more affordable.

In a media briefing on Thursday (26 November), Nzimande said his department has been working towards a policy framework on the regulation of university fees.

However, this process was not completed for the 2021 academic year due to the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

“We have therefore proposed a further fee compact to public universities, continuing what has been in place for the past few years.

“The intention of these fee compacts is to ensure fee increases are kept at affordable levels, while also ensuring that universities are able to remain sustainable.”

Nzimande said he has written to all university councils with a proposal for a CPI-linked fee increase for 2021. This would be 4.7% on tuition fees and 6.7% on accommodation fees, in line with previous years.

“I am awaiting the response of university councils on this matter,” he said.

2020 academic year 

Looking at fees for the current year, Nzimande said that his department has now determined the financial implications relating to the extended academic year.

He said that the University of Johannesburg and University of Pretoria plan to complete the 2020 academic year during the month of November 2020.

He said that a further eight universities plan to complete in December 2020. These include:

Cape Peninsula University of Technology

  • Sol Plaatje University
  • Stellenbosch University
  • University of Cape Town
  • University of the Free State
  • Unisa
  • University of the Western Cape
  • Wits

The country’s remaining universities and institutions plan to complete their academic years within the first three months of 2021, Nzimande said.

“Given the difficult fiscal situation in our country, no additional funding was provided to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to support the payment of additional extended year allowances,” he said.

“We therefore requested NSFAS to identify funds to support the extended academic year.

“This was done within the existing allocations to the entity, and taking note of the crucial fact that there has been a significant increase in the number of university students qualifying for NSFAS funding in 2020.”

Nzimande said that NSFAS has therefore identified some funding to support the extended academic year, and that additional living allowances to cover meals and personal expenses will be made available for those qualifying university students who require additional months to complete their academic year.

“I wish to stress that this is not a blanket support – where students have completed their academic year they will need to wait until the 2021 academic year for their new allocations.

“NSFAS will work closely with universities to identify the students affected and the extended time for each student that requires support. Universities will have to provide this necessary information to NSFAS to enable the allowances to be expeditiously processed.”

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Proposed university fee increases for South Africa in 2021