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The 2017 online application fee is set at R300, to be submitted with the application form for a student’s particular choice of studies. The payment of such an application fee does not guarantee the placement of a student within the university. In other words, it is a non-refundable administrative fee. Why pay the fee, if payment does not result in guaranteed acceptance to the University?

In a country known for having the widest income inequality gap in the world, it is important that University ensures that it is not adding financial obstacles which will prevent the poor from entering its gates. In 2015, it was estimated that 27 million people in South Africa live below the poverty line. This category receives an income equivalent to R779 or less per month. That’s 54% of people living in the upper bound poverty line and 10.7 million people, 22% living below the food poverty line, they are therefore unable to afford daily food requirements. This is the socio-economic reality of the South African citizenry. Before entering Higher Education, the poor are met with the financial impediment of having to find various means to ensure the payment of the online application fee, to which there is no guarantee of acceptance.

This works to filter the diversity of students entering the university as the poorest who cannot afford such fees are left with no option but to apply to universities that do not charge such a fee. Presently, the aforementioned are predominantly historically black Universities and Universities of Technology. We therefore call upon the University to remove the precondition of a payable online application fee, in line with its express agreement in 2016 regarding the principle of free Education and its current initiatives to ensure transformation.

Currently, of the top five universities in South Africa for 2016, the University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand, and Stellenbosch University charge R100 for their application fee, with the exception of the University of Johannesburg that does not charge a fee for their online application process. The exorbitant fee paid at the University of Pretoria for administrative purposes is questionable given the lower fees paid at the aforementioned universities. A commitment to transformation entails a commitment to removing obstacles that maintain inequalities among students. We as the Pan Africanist Student Movement of Azania inclusive of the student body at large, urge the university to take visible steps in ending the prerequisite non-refundable online application fee dispensation.

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