Tuition fees: which universities are likely to feel the pinch?

Tuition fees: which universities are likely to feel the pinch?

With the announcement of a zero fee increase for higher education institutions next year, the focus is now on where the money will be sourced to finance the expected shortfall. Recent data provide an indication of which universities are most dependent on tuition fees, and as a result might be most vulnerable to a shortfall.

In 2014, tuition fees contributed 32% to the income of South Africa’s 25 higher education institutions1, according to data form Stats SA’s latest Financial statistics of higher education institutions report. The University of Johannesburg depended the most on tuition fees to finance its budget, with 41% of its total income sourced from students. Second was University of Venda (40%), followed by Rhodes University (39%) and University of Zululand (38%).



The two newcomers to South Africa’s tertiary education landscape, Sol Plaatje University and the University of Mpumalanga, recorded the lowest dependence, with tuition fees financing 3% and 2% of total income respectively. This is expected, as these two institutions opened their doors in 2014 with a small number of students.

South Africa’s higher education institutions recorded a total income of R60,6 billion in the 2014 financial year. Money from government, in the form of grants, contributed R25,3 billion (42%), followed by other receipts at R35,2 billion (58%). Other receipts includes tuition fees (contributing R19,3 billion or 32% to total income), research income, gifts, donations and other sources of income. Taxes contributed R51 million.

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1Higher education institutions include universities and universities of technology.