The South African Medical Students Association (SAMSA) stands in solidarity with the recent protests over fee increases at South African universities.
In an already elitist environment, the rapidly increasing cost of higher education in South Africa will exclude many, and put a steadily greater strain on many struggling students and their families.
This struggle is particularly clear for South African medical students. Medical programmes are often the most expensive and lengthy degrees at individual universities. Moreover, there is a serious dearth of funding, both internal and external to universities, to offset these costs.
The result of this is often increasingly large debt, family or personal sacrifices, or in dire situations, exclusion. The additional psychological impact that financial worries have on already strained medical students is immense. This is particularly worrying when considering South Africaʼs history, our current socioeconomic climate and the implications for a society that desperately needs better healthcare.
While we recognise the need for universities to maintain income to offset inflationary costs, SAMSA does not agree that students should bare the brunt of this cost.
SAMSA calls on:
- Government to:
- Increase funding to South African universities and medical schools
- Universities to:
- Entirely reconsider the initially planned fee increases for 2016 for both tuition and registration.
- Investigate new funding and fee models that efficaciously balance fees with the ability of students to pay them, while not putting the burden unduly on students suffering financially.
- Medical schools to:
- Be completely transparent in their spending and funding models, making this information easily available to students, while including student voices in conversations around fees and curriculum costs.
- Actively seek funding opportunities for medical students, while respecting the above mentioned calls.
A national climate of discourse over the vital topic of fees has been created. SAMSA encourages peaceful participation by all parties involved, both students and universities. The importance of education as a tool of upliftment and empowerment cannot be denied; excessive fees should not deprive hardworking individuals of this constitutional right.
SAMSA National Executive Committee