South African students at tertiary institutions have owed around billions of rands in fees since 2020. On average students carrying debt on graduation owe more than R30 000.
This has been a stumbling block for some students as they don’t have their degrees and transcripts on hand to apply for jobs with some students opting to drop out prior to the time of graduation.
This also impacts tertiary institutions, leaving them vulnerable.
Ahmed Bawa, Chief Executive of Universities SA (Usaf), said what is required is a sustainable model for higher education funding instead of the short-term method that leaves universities to deal with the crisis on their own.
Bawa continued to say:
The solution to this isn't going to be found from the students who can't afford to pay and it can't be found from the universities, which are simply not in a position to wipe out these debts.
A national solution must be devised to help facilitate the student's ability to pay these debts.
South African Union of Students (SAUS) President, Yandisa Ndzoyiya shared that the other reason for this is the annual increment in student fees. She says that the funding structure has been set by the government to fund poor students but can’t go beyond a Diploma.
Whereas, University of Johannesburg (UJ) Vice-Chancelor Professor Tshilidzi Morale agreed with the issues raised by the SAUS President. She however highlighted many students that accumulated the most debt in UJ are repeaters, of which he has chimed that there ought to be an extensive tutorial system to deal with the issue of success rate in these institutions of higher learning.