Statues, fees have fallen, what’s next?
Share this article:
Cape Town - The Cecil John Rhodes statue at UCT has fallen, university fees won’t increase next year and outsourcing is on its way out at many tertiary institutions.
All of this happened in just a few months of 2015 and begs the question - what’s next?
This year has highlighted many issues students grapple with once they have access to these institutions, while student activists and, in some cases academics, spoke out against the slow pace of transformation at some institutions.
With many pertinent issues not resolved this year, next year is likely to see more student protests.
The decision not to hike fees next year resulted in a shortfall of more than R2.3 billion, most of which will be covered by the government but about 17 percent of this will have to be covered by universities.
UCT vice-chancellor Dr Max Price recently indicated that austerity measures would have to be implemented at his institution and other institutions would probably have to do the same.
But what will institutions have to do next year and thereafter if students continue to demand that fees are not increased?
Can they afford to go another year without fee hikes? Certainly. the salaries of staff, services and other costs will increase.
How will the government continue to cover the shortfalls created?
In October President Jacob Zuma appointed a task team to investigate and make recommendations on short-term student funding challenges at universities.
The task team identified some factors that could lead to potential protests early next year for which universities need to prepare.
These include upfront fee or registration payments at the start of the year and funding challenges experienced by students who do not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme.
Zuma is expected to announce a commission next month that will look at promoting access to higher education.
With funding being a key factor to access, hopefully part of the commission’s work will be to consider improvements or alternatives to the current funding model.