USB Events

Leader’s Angle | Webinar on the National Student Debt Crisis

SA Student debt crisis

  via Livestream   21 April 2021

One of the key reasons behind the national protests across university campuses concerns student debt. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme estimates that total accumulated debt stands at R36.4 billion since the end of March 2020. For 106 494 students who graduated between 2010 and 2020, an amount of R10.4 billion is owed to 21 out of the 26 public universities according to reports in The Times. One student owes a staggering R400 000 in unpaid debt.

Accumulated debt strangles families. It places a heavy burden on the backs of graduates as they enter the workplace. It leads to deregistration of students who cannot continue their studies unless they repay the debt in part or in full. University administrations, conscious of the steady decline in state funding in real terms, are reluctant to allow students to continue studies without paying outstanding fees.

Students are desperate to study while universities want to remain financially viable. What are some realistic solutions to the problem? What can we learn from other countries? Or are we doomed to remain inside these endless cycles of protests, sometimes violent, disruptions of academic calendars, and the constant frustration of the academic project?

Date:               Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Time:              17:00 (CAT | GMT+2)

Enquiries:        Paula Arends | [email protected]

#LeadersAngle #StudentLoans #StudentDebt


Prof Jonathan JansenProf Jonathan Jansen
Jonathan Jansen is Distinguished Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University and President of the Academy of Science of South Africa. He is a curriculum theorist, and his research is concerned with the politics of knowledge. His recent books (co-authored, co-edited) include South African Schooling: The enigma of inequality, Fault lines: a primer on race, science and society, Who gets in and why: the politics of admission in South Africa’s elite schools, and The decolonization of knowledge. His current research includes a national study on the impact of the pandemic on the academic work of women scholars, and an investigation into chronic instability in a sample of universities.



Prof ZaloomProf Caitlin Zaloom
Caitlin Zaloom is a cultural anthropologist and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. Her latest book, Indebted: How Families Make College Work at Any Cost, explores how the financial pressures of paying for college affect U.S. middle-class families. Zaloom’s research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, and her work has appeared in outlets including The New York TimesThe AtlanticTime, National Public Radio (NPR), The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Times Higher Education.

Prof VilakaziProf Zeblon Zenzele Vilakazi
Zeblon Vilakazi is the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand. He joined Wits University as Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Postgraduate Affairs in 2014. His previous appointments include Group Executive for Research and Development at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) in 2011, while also serving as the Director of iThemba LABS. He also held an Honorary Professorship in the Department of Physics at the University of Cape Town (UCT). He has more than 300 refereed articles in Nuclear and High Energy Physics.

Prof Ahmed BawaProf Ahmed Bawa
Ahmed Bawa is the CEO of Universities South Africa (USAf), a membership body representing South Africa’s universities through their Vice-Chancellors.  Until recently he was Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Durban University of Technology. He has an interest in the understanding of universities as social institutions and the relationship between science and society. He is a theoretical physicist.




Prof Nico CloeteProf Nico Cloete
Nico Cloete was since 1996 the Director of the Centre for Higher Education Trust (CHET) and Coordinator of the Higher Education Research and Advocacy Network in Africa (HERANA). Currently he is a Research Professor in the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy at Stellenbosch University. His latest books are Anchored in Place: Rethinking the University and Development in South Africa (2018) and Research Universities in Africa (2018).


Tags  Leader’s Angle, Student debt


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