Students demonstrate at Wits University

THE move by Wits University authorities to significantly increase fees by an average 45 percent is set to hit international students the hardest.

The students, who boycotted classes indefinitely on Wednesday, lamented that the move will make studying at this accomplishe

d institution of higher learning unaffordable.

The university has increased fees for international students by 44 percent, which translates to R4 000, while registration fees is up by 30 percent. Tuition fees for all faculties have been increased by up to 18 percent.

Analysts said Zimbabwean students would most be the most affected by the increases. Some international students said they now had to part with more than R60 000 (about US$8 400) per year to study at the Johannesburg-based institution.

“Foreign students will be highly affected. Some are likely to drop or restrategise. The poor are likely to fall by the way side,” said, socio-economic analyst Shepherd Mpofu.

“This will have adverse effects across the board and tends to sift those who can afford and those who cannot. Safer are those sponsored,” he added.
Several students concurred with Mpofu during the massive demonstration that the fees had rendered tuition fees unaffordable.

“I foresee a high drop out from among international students that are studying here,” said Mercy Nkiwane, Zimbabwean-born masters student.

“The rates of increase are prohibitive. Such percentage increases are way too high by South African economic standards,” she lamented.
Students bemoaned the fact that the increase would render tertiary education a preserve of a few.
In a move that also has not gone down well with students, the university is contemplating privatising its residence facilities.

“This privatization thing happened in Zimbabwe not so long ago, and it is anyone’s guess how it affected affordability of education in that country,” added the student.

Hundreds of international students, the bulk of them Zimbabweans some of whom are on bursaries and finding the going tough as a result of a chronic shortage of foreign currency back home, are studying at the institution.

However, among them are relatives of the ruling elite who do not encounter much of such problems.
Meanwhile, Wits students have vowed to continue with their class boycotts that started on Wednesday if the university did not address their grievances.

Mpofu said it was unlikely that the university would be forced to reverse its increases. Some universities in South Africa have been hit by such boycotts this year.

It has since emrged that attached to the Wits strike is the retainment of Edwin Cameroon as the chairman of the senate against the student wishes. Students said hewase anti-transformation and will always work against the improvement of the black child in terms of academia- CAJ News.

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