STUDENT NURSES OBJECT TO R500 COLLEGE FEE, 23 April 1998
Students at Gauteng nursing colleges have objected to the requirement that they pay a college fee of R500 a year. Classes were disrupted today at three out of eight nursing colleges in Gauteng - Lebone, GaRankuwa and BG Alexander Colleges.
Students are also protesting at having to assume responsibility for their transport costs to the institution where they are doing practical training.
In view of the enormous contribution of the tax payer to the training of nurses, we feel that the fee is a modest and reasonable contribution which no student can justifiably view with resentment.
- It presently costs the Gauteng Government an average of R43 916 a year for just one student at a provincial nursing college.
On average, R26 832 is paid directly to the student nurse in the form of a salary. The total salary package amounts on average to R34 500 once the full fringe benefits which are due to any public servant have been added.
Pension and medial aid contributions
A 13th cheque.
A housing allowance (where the student meets the criteria).
Three months' paid maternity leave.
Nursing students also receive subsidised accommodation and meals.
The monthly deduction from their salaries towards a R500 annual fee would amount to R41,66.
We recognise that the Department benefits from the services of nursing students during their training, especially during the third and fourth years. However, the fact remains that only about 160 days a year are spent in service and a substantial amount of this time is still devoted to learning
Fees at nursing colleges were first introduced in 1986, when the colleges became autonomous. Not all institutions levied fees, but among those that did the rate varied from R50 to R800 a year.
The policy decision to standardise the fee at R500 was taken to bring about equity, and to establish a fund to enhance educational facilities at colleges for instance, to improve libraries or to purchase additional audio-visual and information technology. Students are represented on the finance committee which decide how this money is spent.
At some colleges the new fee has been accepted and students are already making regular payments.
The fortunate position of nursing students at provincial colleges is underscored when compared to other nursing students and medical students.
Students doing a nursing degree at the four universities in the province receive the same salary package as college students, but they pay much higher fees up to R7 000 a year.
Medical students (other than interns) are not paid and are responsible for annual fees ranging from R9 000 to R12 000 a year. They can compete for a limited number of bursaries of R23 000 to R27 000, which must be repaid in service on completion of their studies.
The Gauteng Health Department has indicated that it is prepared to meet the Gauteng Student Nurses Representative Council to discuss issues arising from the uniform college fee and the transport policy. But we remain convinced that the fee is both justified and reasonable and we have no intention of withdrawing it.
Mary-Grace Msimango, Director for Professional Services Tel: 082 372 0550
Released by the Directorate for Health Promotion & Communications, Gauteng Provincial Government