statement by Media and Marketing Director (03 February 1998)

The decision by the South African University Vice Chancellors’ Association that students owing money to a university, will be refused entry to the institution, and the subsequent confrontation at the University of the Western Cape, were both perhaps unavoidable actions.

With a load of R500m of unpaid study accounts, our universities just cannot continue to function properly, also in the light of decreasing government subsidies. Students, who in the past had a ‘free’ university education, also because of politically motivated lenient fee policies, cannot comprehend why the situation now has to change.

The fact is that we are normalising society, and tertiary education as part of it. Our country just does not have the financial resources to provide free tertiary education; it is also not a social service that other democratic states offer.

There are therefore three issues at stake here:

  • Administrative discipline from universities to ensure study fee payments to keep our universities institutions for training and research excellence.
  • Discipline from students not to attend university without paying, to start regarding payment for services rendered as a necessity, ‘the right thing to do’ and not as a burden to be avoided if possible.
  • A creative look at generating study fees: many students pay for their studies by part-time work or by first working for a few years after matric in order to raise enough money. With the scarcity of jobs, other ideas such as community bursaries and even study stokvels may be investigated. Fact is, where there is a will, there must be a way. Let us be creative about it, but also moral.