In an attempt to get more underprivileged students to continue with their studies, the University of the Free State has announced that it will not charge prospective students an application fee.
And as an incentive for final-year students UFS has also decided to waive its R950 fee for registration for postgraduate studies.
UFS rector Jonathan Jansen encouraged students to continue with their studies.
The chairman of the Higher Education Transformation Network, Lucky Thekisho, yesterday called the decision a “good initiative” that set a precedent in higher education.
“Waiving application fees, and registration fees for postgraduate studies, makes higher education accessible and is a step towards free higher education.
“The decision will assist in giving deserving students a brighter future, as well as provide the country with much-needed academics, which is what these children will be able to do if they have the opportunity to study beyond their undergraduate qualifications,” Thekisho said.
UFS spokesman Lacea Loader said the university wanted to set an example and challenged all public universities to scrap their application fees.
She added that students applying to more than one institution felt the brunt of application fees the most.
“The university leadership realised that tens of thousands of students who qualify for university entrance fall at the first hurdle – finding the money to apply.”
University of Cape Town director of admissions Carl Herman said its R100 application fee was a “small part of the financial burden” on students.
Application fees at the University of the Witwatersrand were reduced from R250 to R100 three years ago.
It also dropped the registration fee for current students wanting to progress to postgraduate studies. Outside students pay an application fee of R200 for postgraduate studies.
Wits vice-chancellor and principal Adam Habib said a decision to waive its application fee would have financial consequences that the council would need to consider.
The deputy vice-chancellor of finance at the University of Johannesburg, Jaco van Schoor, encouraged prospective students to apply online, which has been free since 2014, adding that the university had developed and implemented a computerised system that speeded the selection process.