Students dressed in graduation gowns pose in front of a mock Mayan temple moments before the countdown time when many believe the Mayan people predicted the end of the world, Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Taichung, southern Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Durban - The cost of higher education is to increase by between 8 percent and 12 percent this year with accounting, engineering, medicine, nursing and fine art among the most expensive courses to study, according to a snap survey by The Mercury.

The increases come as institutions face escalating operating costs, shrinking state subsidies and hundreds of millions of rand in student debt.

Fees at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) will rise by 7 percent next year.

The increase was attributed to rising electricity, municipal and insurance costs.

Fuel for student shuttle services, audit charges and the maintenance of infrastructure and information technology services are also pressuring the institution’s budget.

Students who failed to pay their fees last year collectively owe DUT R166.8 million which is already sitting with R38.6m in bad debt from 2011.

School-leavers can expect to pay between R19 000 and R30 000 for first-year tuition for some of the more popular programmes, which include journalism (R24 160), emergency medical services (R19 080), nursing (R29 990) and human resources (R24 810).

Prospective DUT students are spared the expense of a registration fee but are required to pay their first fee instalment (R1 980 for semester students and R3 220 for annual students) when they register.

To stay in a DUT residence costs between R16 200 and R19 700 a year.

The University of KwaZulu-Natal is to implement a 12 percent tuition and 9 percent accommodation increase this year, in part because of annual inflation.

While the breakdown of the 2013 fees per degree was not available, to study architecture last year would have cost R27 100, social work R26 680, law R23 200 and education R21 510.

The cost of accommodation ranged from R9 662 to R10 000 a semester.

UKZN students pay a deposit towards the total cost of their studies and accommodation rather than an additional fee when registering.

Following a 9 percent fee hike, tuition at the Mangosuthu University of Technology will cost from R4 530 to R15 350 a semester, depending on the course and subjects, and residence fees between R4 120 and R11 150 a semester.

At the time of writing, the University of Zululand said it had not made a final decision on its 2013 fee increase.


Further afield, the University of the Witwatersrand will up its fees by an average of about 8 percent.

Asked which financial burdens “necessitated” the increase, Wits cited factors from declining government funding to printing costs.

The institution said it was trying to boost its third-stream income to minimise the impact on student fees.

Third-stream income includes earnings from research, donations, and investments. Wits said it was obliged to order many of its consumable products like textbooks and specialised equipment from abroad using a currency “that remained relatively weak”.

The cost of books, electronic journals, running laboratories, electricity and maintenance outstripped inflation.

A first-year student pursuing a degree in engineering in 2012 would have forked out at least R30 630, education R20 810, accounting R33 296 and medicine R43 520.

The cost of accommodation at Wits depended on the residence, the number of people sharing and if meals were provided.

This ranged from R18 000 per student sharing (excluding meals) to R37 700 for students preferring their own room with 19 full meals a week.

At the University of Cape Town, first-year tuition in 2013 for degree programmes ranged from R39 500 to R51 000 for aspiring accountants, from R44 000 to R46 000 for engineers and R42 500 for fine arts. - The Mercury