This is how much money South Africa’s top universities make

 ·20 Oct 2015

South Africa’s top universities have come under pressure in recent days with students protesting against their intended fee hikes for 2016.

Students across the country are currently engaged in protest action at their respective universities, standing against proposed increases in fees for next year.

The demonstrations erupted at the University of the Witwatersrand last week, and quickly spread to other institutes across the country, including Stellenbosch, Rhodes and the University of Cape Town.

On Tuesday Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande announced the reduced fee increase, to 6%.

The country’s universities rely on several major sources for income:

  • State subsidies and grants (which often make up more than a third of total income);
  • Tuition and other fees;
  • Private gifts and donations;
  • Residence and catering services;
  • Income from research and other contracts

While students still owe universities millions of rands, some institutes are faring relatively well thanks, in part, to increasing fees.

The University of KwaZulu Natal noted that student fee income increased by 15% to R1.3 billion – the main contributory factors being a student fee increase of 12%, and an increase in enrollment of about 3%.

Further, all but one of the country’s top universities reported some form of profit – be it marginally in some cases. Unisa recorded a loss of R40 million in 2014, having previously reported a profit of R1 billion in 2013.

“One of the main reasons for the decrease in the operating surplus is the fair value adjustment of  investments because of the slow market growth and the liquidation of long term investments to meet cash flow needs.

“Investments are exposed to the volatility of the global equity markets and the fair value adjustment changed by 55% from R777 million in 2013 to R349 million during the year under review,” Unisa said.

The University of Johannesburg, however, showed an operating surplus of R33.5 million, but clawed back as much as R385 million through investments to show a positive overall return.

South Africa’s best performing university, Stellenbosch, received a high number of private donations, allocations and contracts, exceeding R1 billion.

The university also generated R947 million from the disposal of investments.

Read: What vice-chancellors at South Africa’s top universities earn

Top Universities in South Africa

University No. of students Revenue (Rbillions) Expenditure (Rbillions) Total Profit/(Loss) (Rmillions)
Stellenbosch University 30 150 5.4 3.9 991.0
University of Cape Town 26 300 4.7 4.3 676.0
University of Johannesburg  48 500 2.9 2.9 266.0
University of KwaZulu Natal  40 000 3.8 3.7 130.6
Rhodes University 7 000 1.05 1.0 116.0
University of Witwatersrand  32 700 4.1 3.9 53.7
North-West University 74 300 3.08 3.1 20.8
Unisa 400 000 5.7 5.8 (40.0)

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