Load Shedding Takes Its Toll on Universities, But They Persist with Limited Resources

Despite facing persistent load shedding, Tshwane universities maintain that their academic projects are still on track. However, the lack of stable electricity has put significant pressure on their operational budgets. The University of Pretoria has reported spending over R1.5 million a day during Stage 3 load shedding, R2 million for Stage 4, and almost R3 million during Stage 6. These costs have resulted in delayed refurbishments of university-owned residences due to affordability concerns. In addition, the rising utility fees have surpassed the inflation rate, causing further financial strain on the university.

The Tshwane University of Technology has also struggled to cope with the ongoing load shedding, with diesel generators being the most accessible alternative energy source. The high price of diesel over the past year has added to the university’s consumable budget, affecting facilities not only in Pretoria but also in other provinces.

Both universities have had to invest in generators to cope with power interruptions, which have added a burden to their already strained finances. The University of Pretoria has over 70 generators in place and is supporting students through bursaries, donor funding, and loans, despite being under financial strain due to student debt. The university council has approved a tuition fee increase of 6%, which is below the latest published inflation rate of over 7%. However, this increase is insufficient to ensure the university’s financial sustainability while balancing affordability for students.