South Africa invests 2.7% of its total education budget in higher education, according to the estimates of national expenditure for 2016.
Although funding to the sector has increased year by year, the sector has grown and funding for full-time students has been in steady decline.
Universities South Africa (Usaf), the representative association of all 26 public universities, has been trying to persuade policymakers in the government for years that the university sector needs to be adequately funded if it is to be effective and globally competitive.
Universities’ budgets come from three main sources:
- An annual state subsidy disbursed in the form of teaching and research grants, based on the number of full-time equivalent students per institution and research outputs;
- Tuition fees; and
- Corporate activity, private donations and investments.
State subsidies account for 50% to 60% of most universities’ total revenue, according to a document by the department of education, titled A New Funding Framework.