University residences come in differentshapes and forms, there are single and double rooms, separate residences for male and female students or mixed-gender accommodation, and self-catering or catered options. The University of Pretoria is known as the largest residential university in South Africa and can accommodate nearly 20% of its student body in its official and accredited private residences combined, says the Department of Residence and Accommodation. On the Hatfield campus, UP has 15 undergraduate residences and four postgraduate residences. The Groenkloof and Prinshof campuses each have four residences, and the Onderstepoort and Mamelodi campuses each have their own residence.
The university has leased accommodation at Eastwood Village, Urban Nest, Flower’s Edge, The Fields and Hatfield Square. Living in a residence can be quite expensive as there can be a lot of costs that come with it, including the reservation levy which is R5 700 for 2018, accommodation fees which differ from res to res, meal accounts which require a minimum of R14 400 and a maximum of R31 620 a year, and recess fees charged per day as normal residence fees do not include holiday periods. In 2018, residence fees, particularly accommodation fees, have increased compared to 2016 and 2017. Students in ladies and male residencies on the Hatfield, Hillcrest, Mamelodi, Groenkloof and Onderstepoort campuses have to pay within a range of R37 400 – R46 100 for sharing rooms, and R40 300 – R49 000 for single rooms compared to the range of R34 200 – 42 200 for sharing rooms and R36 900 – R44 800 for single rooms in 2016/7. The rate for a sharing room on the Prinshof campus is now R37 400 from R32 400, and a single room ranges between R40 300 – R58 000 from R36 900 – R53 100 in 2016/7.
On 16 December 2017, former President Jacob Zuma announced a free education plan that the government would be phasing in, with “fully subsidised free higher education and training for poor and working-class South Africans” over a period of five years. Subsequently, the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) established a bursary scheme for poor and working-class students to have access to tertiary education. The government plans to cover the full cost of education for students with an income of under R350 000 per annum, while subsidising the 8% increase in tuition fees for those in the ‘missing middle’ which are households with an annual income of up to R600 000. BusinessTech expresses that the “missing middle” should still be paying the same rates as 2015 after fee increases were blocked in 2016, and the 8% in 2017 and 2018 only applied to those who earn above the R600 000 threshold. However, Universities South Africa has granted universities an 8% increase for 2018 as budgets need to be set.
On 9 January, the DHET released the 2018 changes to funding for poor and working-class students in public higher education institutions. The document expresses that continuing students and first-time entrants in 2018 would have their NSFAS allocation for 2018 as a bursary, which need not be paid back. The bursary will cover the actual cost of tuition plus a capped amount for prescribed learning material. The bursary only offers subsidised accommodation and living costs including meals, and the amount will also be capped at defined institutional accommodation rates. Currently, past loans that students have will not be converted into a bursary, for the Minister of Higher Education and Training, in conjunction with the National Treasury and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation is yet to determine the amount required to address the debt owed by students to NSFAS and institutions. The capped NSFAS amounts often leave students with higher fees trapped with historical debt. SABCNews expresses that although the NSFAS bursary will be awarded to continuing students, historical debt will not be settled.
The University of Witwatersrand has launched a SizofundaNgenkani Emergency Fund which intends to assist with the payment of historical debt, accommodation, fees, and registration for returning students who are unable to register for the 2018 academic year. UP also has made funding available through UP managed loans and UNIPTA for students who applied and qualified for NSFAS in 2015 but were not sufficiently assisted, and therefore, will be assisted with UNIPTA funding, subject to the NSFAS criteria being met. However, students who do not meet these loan requirements, or those who cannot be assisted with the limited funding available, must make payment arrangements with the student account consultants at the Student Services Centre.
Photo: Elmarie Kruger