Pali Lehohla highlights ‘burden’ faced by SA universities

Stats SA has released the financial statistics of higher education institutions report for 2015 in Pretoria.

FILE: Statistician-General Pali Lehohla. Picture: EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Statistician-General Pali Lehohla says South African universities service nearly one million students, which is a significant burden because the figure should be closer to about 600,000.

Stats SA released the financial statistics of higher education institutions report for 2015 in Pretoria today.





The figures show enrolments have grown from about 742,000 in 2016, to 985,000 in 2015.

Lehohla says the university system is inefficient, with a discrepancy between the higher number of enrolments and graduates leaving the system.

"If the throughput was successful, you'd expect no more than 600,000 students, including those who pursue doctorates, if people don't fail or repeat the academic year. We have a million, so we have about 400,000 more students who are 'clogging the system'."

The figures show government funding has increased by 141 percent over the last decade, while enrolments grew by 32 percent over the same period.

"The system is inefficient, if you look at the number of first year students you don't expect more than 500,000, but we have a million. We're spending money on students that do not succeed and that's what making the system more expensive."

The figures show that government grants make up nearly half of university income, while tuition fees constitute 34 percent.



On the expenditure side, nearly 60 percent of university spending is on salaries, which represents a 14-percent increase from the previous financial year.