How South Africa’s universities spend their money

South Africa’s 25 higher education institutions spent a total of R55.6 billion in the 2014 financial year, with 50% (R27.5 billion) being spent on paying their employees.

This is according to data mined by SatsSA, which showed that the second largest expenditure item was goods and services at R19.3 billion (35%), followed by non-financial assets, which cost R5.5 billion (10%).

The salary bill for all institutions increased on average by 9.9% per annum from 2010 to 2014, with Mangosuthu University of Technology experiencing the highest rise (19.6% per annum), followed by University of South Africa (14.9% per annum) and University of Limpopo (13.3% per annum).

Walter Sisulu University experienced the lowest growth in salary expenditure, rising by 2.2% per year.

Government is looking for ways to make up a R2.33 billion shortfall created by the 2016 fees freeze, following mass protest by students countrywide.

In a presentation delivered by Minister of Higher Education and Training, Blade Nzimande, to the National Assembly on Wednesday, that figure is made up of a tuition fee increment of R1.915 billion and a residence fee increment of R415 million.

It was agreed, following consultation with all involved parties that the shortfall for 2016 will be shared with universities and government. Universities will contribute R394.7 million, while the department in consultation with the National Treasury will secure the remaining R1.935 billion.

The presentation also looked at the longer term university funding implications of the 0% fee increase next year.

According to the presentation, the baseline for university funding must be increased by a minimum of R2.4bn in 2017 to offset the 0% increase in 2016, and maintain the current student population and programmes offered by institutions.

University spend 2014

In 2014, tuition fees contributed 32% to the income of South Africa’s 25 higher education institutions, 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, StatsSA said.

Tuition fees

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How South Africa’s universities spend their money