File photo: Denis Farrell
File photo: Denis Farrell

Rhodes struggling to keep afloat

By Tebogo Monama Time of article published Jul 18, 2016

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Johannesburg - Rhodes University appears to be in financial dire straits, struggling to meet its target budget to keep it running without difficulty.

To keep operating, the institution needs R60 million a month.

It withheld the June results for about 1 616 students in an effort to get the students to begin paying their debt.

Rhodes University spokeswoman Catherine Deiner said the institution was not bankrupt but the operating cashflow “has been placed under great pressure as a result of the slow payment of student fees”.

She said R60m a month was needed to pay staff salaries and municipal services.

Deiner said most of the money for the day-to-day running of the university was from student fees, which she said had been trickling in slowly this year.

In a letter to students earlier this month, the university said it was forced to withhold results because instead of a 50 percent minimum initial payment at the beginning of the year, only 10 percent was required for the 2016 academic year.

Coupled with the no-fee increases after the #FeesMustFall protests, the university had been under financial strain.

The institution said that by the end of the first semester, more than 50 percent of all fees were still outstanding.

Deiner said they had had to withhold the June results for students in arrears.

As many as 818 out of the 1 616 students have already made contact with the fees office to settle outstanding fees, provide a payment plan or update their existing payment plan. These students have since been given their results.

“The university appeals to the remaining 798 students to make contact with the fees office as soon as possible to discuss a way forward with the payment of outstanding fees,” Deiner said.

She said the university had received fee payments totalling R12m since June 6.

“While this is still R5.3m short of the monthly student fee payment target of R17.4m, this inflow of fee payments is both welcome and significant.”

Rhodes, like all the other universities, receives the bulk of its income from a Department of Higher Education and Training subsidy based on enrolment targets, graduation rates and research output.

“In order to remain financially viable in 2017, we need to continue to attract sufficient fee-paying students and ensure that we offer an uninterrupted high quality education,” Deiner said.

“We are continually engaged in efforts to raise third stream income levels, and have been significantly successful in doing so in the research domain.”

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