Third-year industrial and system engineering student Janak Patel says, “The [tuition] fees are reasonable since we are not getting just any normal education and degree. [The qualifications] are well-known overseas and are internationally recognised by top countries like the USA and Australia.”
Books also form a big part of the list of costs that need to be covered.
According to book prices Wize Books’ website, the cost of purchasing university textbooks around UP’s area ranges from R150-R1 516. Books are not always used in their entirety as sometimes only certain chapters are relevant for a module.
Second year BCom Informatics student Yi-Yu Liu says that tertiary institutions should make expensive textbooks available as ebooks. “The whole world is moving towards an electronic side, so [the universities] should consider staying on top,” Liu says. Patel feels that ebooks would be a way for Tuks to set an example for other institutions in saving the environment, but doesn’t think that many textbooks would be made available as ebooks because authors tend to prefer print.
Accommodation is another major cost that students incur. According to the prices on Arlon.co.za, property owners seek rental income from R3 990 for a half-bedroom apartment to R6 690 for a two-bedroom apartment in the Hatfield area. Above the price of accommodation, students should also consider the safety of the area and building.
Second-year accounting student Kumeshan Moonsamy travels via the Gautrain from Midrand to the Hatfield campus on a daily basis. Moonsamy has to purchase a R400 weekly ticket and also pay R15 per day to park his car at the Midrand station. “I wouldn’t prefer staying near campus even if it would save time and money. I wouldn’t be able to survive [because my] family is important to me,” says Moonsamy.
Loans at lower interest rates and bursaries are two of the more popular ways to finance student costs. Various firms and institutions in South Africa provide such assistance.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have bursary programmes for anyone studying toward an accounting degree or selected engineering and information technology degrees.
However, the problem with bursaries is their requirement for students to keep their marks at a certain level.
For example, PwC require their bursary students to maintain a 70% average in all subjects at an undergraduate-level and a 60% average in all subjects at a postgraduate-level. This may pose an obstacle for a number of students. This can be a discouraging factor for some students considering a bursary as an alternative to finance their education.
Some banks also grant student loans that cover tuition fees, books and equipment such as laptops. They also provide accommodation allowances, should students be studying on a full-time basis and living away from home. Repayment of the loan will only commence upon completion of the studies, but monthly interest will be payable during the term of studies. Should the student be a part-time student, the repayment of the loan will commence as soon as the studies begin.
Being a student has always been challenging when it comes to finances. It becomes tougher when students come from less privileged backgrounds and have to face paying off loans or be under constant pressure to keep their grades up in order to retain their bursaries or scholarships. Analysing one’s financial and intellectual capabilities would be a good first step to determine the type of financing that would be most suitable. However, students can make all the financial strain worth it in the end by obtaining a qualification with the best possible marks.